A researcher has died after contracting the rare ‘Monkey B’ virus, marking the first documented human death from the virus in China.
The Beijing-based veterinary surgeon became ill in April, one month after dissecting two primates. He later died on May 27, after suffering nausea, vomiting, fever and eventually neurological symptoms.
It’s understood the man, who had been 53 at the time of his death, had been working in a lab which conducts experimental research on non-human primate breeding. Lab tests by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention verified that the researcher had indeed contracted the Monkey B virus.
Also known as ‘herpes B’, the ‘Monkey B’ virus is common among macaque monkeys, but is known to be very rare among humans.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease expert from Japan’s Kobe University explained this disease usually attacks the central nervous system when transmitted to humans, causing brain inflammation and loss of consciousness. Without treatment, the fatality rate is about 80%.
In its report, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention determined:
This implied that BV in monkeys might pose a potential zoonotic threat to the occupational workers. It is necessary to eliminate BV during the development of specific pathogen-free rhesus colonies and to strengthen surveillance in laboratory macaques and occupational workers in China.
The last human death from the ‘Monkey B’ virus was back in 1997, when 22-year-old primate researcher, Elizabeth R. Griffin, from the US, died six weeks after an infected rhesus monkey threw waste matter at her face, landing in her eye.
As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has only been one documented case of an infected human spreading the virus to another person.
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US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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