What is monkey B virus?

What is monkey B virus? The Chinese health authorities have reported the first human death they have recorded from the infection of the monkey B virus, a rather rare infectious disease. 

The 53-year-old man was a veterinarian and worked at a research institute specializing in the breeding of non-human primates. Apparently, he contracted the disease by dissecting two bodies of infected monkeys in the Beijing laboratory where he worked last March, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The deceased began to have nausea, vomiting and fever one month after exposure to this virus. He died on May 27, after seeking different treatments in some hospitals in the country. 

Apparently, the veterinarian did not infect any close contact, since the tests carried out on a doctor and a nurse in his environment were negative according to the blood and saliva deaths that were taken and that confirmed that he had this disease.

What is monkey B virus?

The monkey B virus is also known as herpes B virus. Although this strange disease has already been studied before, it is the first case registered in this Asian country. 

From what little is known, it is an enzootic alphaherpesvirus mainly detected in macaques and is extremely rare. It can become fatal if transmitted to humans, its mortality rate is between 70% and 80%. 

This virus attacks the central nervous system, causing brain inflammation that ends up causing loss of consciousness, says Kentaro Iwata, scientist and infectious disease expert at the University of Kobe.

It is contagious?

Since 1932, when the virus was first infected from primate to humans, about 100 human infections have been recorded, almost all from the North American area. 

There is a possibility that many cases have not been diagnosed due to the lack of knowledge about this virus and because, as experts maintain, it is a very rare and unusual disease in humans, according to the Global Times portal.

The death of a New York researcher in 1977 had already been documented. The scientist contracted the disease when a drop of liquid from one of the caged monkeys struck him in the eye. He passed away at six weeks.

Those who contract the disease are usually veterinarians, scientists or researchers who are in direct contact with infected primates and are frequently exposed to their body fluids through scratches, bites or wounds.

Only one case is known in which a human has passed it on to another human. Nikolaus Osterrieder, dean of the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences in Hong Kong, assures that this virus is similar to the coronavirus, in that they are "the consequence of species jumps." 

However, the virologist maintains that both differ in that "SARS-CoV-2 acquired the ability to spread to a new host, in the case of herpes B, it is a dead end."

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