Explained: What is the Monkey B virus that caused the first human death in China?

Source: Indian Express

What is the News?

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.

About Monkey B virus(BV):
  • Monkey B Virus(BV) is an alphaherpesvirus enzootic (endemic) found in macaque monkeys.
    • Alphaherpesviruses are pathogens that invade the nervous systems of their mammalian hosts.
  • The virus was first identified in 1932. It is also the only identified old-world-monkey herpesvirus that displays severe pathogenicity in humans.
How is it transmitted?
  • The virus can be transmitted via direct contact and the exchange of bodily secretions of monkeys. It has a fatality rate of 70% to 80%.
  • The virus can survive on surfaces for several hours, especially in a moist state.
  • Human infections occur when an infected monkey bites or scratches them; they get fluid or tissue from an infected monkey on broken skin, in the eyes, nose, or mouth. Exposure to an infected monkey’s brain, spinal cord, or skull.
Symptoms:
  • Initial symptoms of the virus include — fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and rash-itchy wounds, among others. These initial symptoms usually develop around 1-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.
  • In the later stage, the virus can lead to the loss of muscle coordination and neurological damage.

Are there any cases of human-to-human transmission?

  • Till date, only one case has been documented of an infected person spreading B virus to another person.
  • The virus might pose a potential threat to laboratory workers, veterinarians, and others who may be exposed to monkeys or their specimens.
  • Currently, there are no vaccines that can protect against Monkey B virus infection.
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