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Monkey B Virus

Monkey B Virus


  • 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 Monkey B virus, or herpes B virus, is prevalent among macaque monkeys, but extremely rare — and often deadly — when it spreads to humans.

  • The virus, initially isolated in 1932, is an alphaherpesvirus enzootic in macaques of the genus Macaca.

  • Other primates, such as chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys, can become infected with the B virus and will frequently die from these infections.

  • It is caused by macaques, a genus of Old World monkeys that serve as the natural host.

  • B virus is the only identified old-world-monkey herpesvirus that displays severe pathogenicity in humans


  • 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.

  • According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Macaque monkeys commonly have this virus, and it can be found in their :

    • Saliva,

    • Faeces (poop)

    • Urine (pee)

    • Brain or spinal cord tissue

  • 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.


  • 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.

    • Get exposed to the brain (especially), spinal cord, or skull of an infected monkey.


  • Symptoms typically start within one month of being exposed to B virus, but could appear in as little as three to seven days.

  • The first indications of B virus infection are typically flu-like symptoms such as:

    • fever and chills

    • muscle ache

    • Fatigue and headache, following which an infection person may develop small blisters in the wound or area on the body that came in contact with the monkey

    • shortness of breath

    • nausea and vomiting

    • abdominal pain and hiccups

  • As the disease progresses, the virus spreads to and causes inflammation (swelling) of the brain and spinal cord, leading to neurologic and inflammatory symptoms such as :

    • pain

    • numbness

    • itching near the wound site

    • issues with muscle coordination

    • Brain damage and severe damage to the nervous system and in extreme cases, death


  • Currently, there are no vaccines that can protect against B virus infection.

  • The virus might pose a potential threat to:

    • laboratory workers

    • veterinarians

    • Others who may be exposed to monkeys or their specimens.

  • Till date, only one case has been documented of an infected person spreading B virus to another person.

SOURCE: Indian Express