China has reported the first human infection case with Monkey B virus (BV) after a Beijing-based veterinarian was confirmed with the same a month after he dissected two dead monkeys in early March. The 53-year-old male vet, who worked for an institution researching on non-human primates, started showing early-onset symptoms of nausea and vomiting in April. The vet died in May raising concerns amid the existing coronavirus pandemic.

What is Monkey B virus?

  1. The virus, initially isolated in 1932, is an alphaherpesvirus enzootic in macaques of the genus Macaca.
  2. B virus is the only identified old-world-monkey herpesvirus that displays severe pathogenicity in humans.
  3. The infection can be transmitted via direct contact and exchange of bodily secretions of monkeys and has a fatality rate of 70 per cent to 80 per cent.
  4. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Macaque monkeys commonly have this virus, and it can be found in their saliva, feces (poop), urine (pee), or brain or spinal cord tissue.
  5. The virus may also be found in cells coming from an infected monkey in a lab. B virus can survive for hours on surfaces, particularly when moist.
  6. Humans can get infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected monkey; get an infected monkey’s tissue or fluid on broken skin or in eyes, nose, or mouth; scratch or cut oneself on a contaminated cage or other sharp-edged surface or get exposed to the brain (especially), spinal cord, or skull of an infected monkey.
  7. Symptoms typically start within one month of being exposed to B virus, but could appear in as little as three to seven days.