In the midst of the Corona crisis, there has been a case in China where a human has been infected with another virus and died. A veterinarian has died after being infected by a monkey B virus transmitted by the monkey. This is the first case of human transmission of the virus in China. How deadly the virus is can be estimated from the fact that the mortality rate of infected people is 70 to 80 percent.
According to the Global Times, the first case of the death of a veterinarian from the monkey B virus has come to light in Beijing. However, people who came in contact with a doctor are now completely safe. The 53-year-old veterinarian was doing research on non-human primates at an institute.
The doctor did research on two dead monkeys in March. He then developed early symptoms of nausea and vomiting. According to the report, the infected doctor was treated in several hospitals but later died on May 27.
What is the Monkey B virus?
Monkey B virus is also known as Herpesvirus simiae, Herpes virus B, or Simian B virus infection. It is very similar to Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1).
V.K. Bhardwaj, a former consultant at ICMR, says the herpes B virus, or monkey virus, is usually transmitted by adult macaque monkeys. The virus is also transmitted by rhesus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, cynomolgus monkeys, or long-tailed macaques.
According to him, it is rare in humans, as the virus has not yet infected monkeys in India, but if a human becomes infected with the virus, he or she may have a neurological disease or brain-related problems.
How monkey B virus is transmitted to humans?
The risk of infection in humans is currently very low, although exposure to infected macaque monkeys can transmit the virus to humans.
It can be transmitted to humans via:
- Biting by infected monkey
- Scratch by nails of infected monkeys
- Contact of the saliva of infected monkeys
- Contact of fecal matters and urine of infected monkeys
- Use of infected syringes and needles
Who are at higher risk of transmission of the money B virus?
Following people are more prone to be infected with the monkey B virus.
- People working in virology laboratory and researching monkeys
- Veterinary doctors
- People taking care of monkeys and working nearer to them
This virus is still not found in the monkeys of India.
Diagnosis of monkey B virus
Virus culture and serological testing like PCR tests are done to diagnose monkey B virus infection both in the contracted person and the associated monkey.
Sample of the saliva of monkey also taken to detect whether the monkey is actively shedding the viruses and also blood samples collected to detect virus from the serum.
Symptoms of monkey B virus
Symptoms of the virus can be seen in humans within a month or even 3 to 7 days. Its symptoms are not the same in all people.
Some common symptoms may include:
- Itching of the whole body
- Flu-like symptoms
- Weakness or fatigue
- Nausea, vomiting
- Muscle pain or spasm
- Pain at the wound site
- Fever with chills
- Headache for more than 24 hours
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fluid-filled small blisters mostly at the wound site
But symptoms can be different in different people infected with the virus.
Treatment of monkey B virus
Early detection can lead to successful treatment and the life of an infected person can be saved. According to a report by the Boston Public Health Commission, persons infected with the virus can die in 70 percent of cases if not treated on time.
In this case, if you have been bitten or scratched by a monkey’s nails, it may be a carrier of the B virus. In such conditions, first aid should be started immediately by thoroughly cleaning the injured area with soap and water.
According to the commission’s report, anti-viral drugs are available to treat the monkey B virus, but no vaccine has yet been developed.
Prevention of monkey B virus
At present, there is no vaccine to protect against the monkey B virus.
Laboratory workers and peoples dealing with macaque monkeys are at higher risks of getting the infection. So they should use proper protective types of equipment like laboratory coats, gloves, face masks, and face shields while dealing with the monkeys.
They should stay away from possibly infected macaque monkeys to prevent their nail scratching and bites.
If anyone accidentally gets scratched or bitten by monkeys, they should immediately clean the wound with soap and water and run tapping water on the wound for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterward, inform your doctor that you have encountered such an incident.
Is there any vaccine to prevent the monkey B virus?
There is no vaccine available to prevent against monkey B virus. So other protective measures should be taken by those who are in close touch with monkeys.
Complications of monkey B virus
It can cause nervous system complications and brain damage like encephalomyelitis, seizures and/or partial paresis, alteration of consciousness, cranial nerve abnormalities, neuromuscular dysfunction, and coma also.
Mortality rate of monkey B virus
70% to 80% is the mortality rate of the monkey B virus. But till now very few cases of the disease are reported in the world.
Monkey B virus FAQs
How long does the monkey B virus live on surfaces?
Monkey B virus can live on different surfaces for hours particularly when surfaces are wet.
These viruses are sensitive to sodium hypochlorite 1%, 70% ethanol, 2% glutaraldehyde, and formaldehyde solution. You can use one of these solutions to clean surfaces only after advice from professionals.
The viruses are also sensitive to heat given for at least 30 minutes at 50⁰ to 60⁰C temperature and also lipid solvents and detergents.
However proper studies on different types of surfaces for survival are not clearly available. The virus can survive in the central nervous system, kidney cells, and saliva of monkeys for many days.
What is the death rate of the monkey B virus?
There are very few cases reported in the world with the monkey B virus. But death rate of the monkey B virus is high and it is about 70 to 80%.
Is the monkey B virus dangerous?
It depends on the immunity of different individuals and how quickly the preventive measures and treatment started after contracting the monkey B virus. The mortality rate of the disease is high. So we can say the monkey B virus can be deadly.
How monkey B virus spread?
It spread to humans who came in contact with saliva, pee, fecal matter, and also bites or scratches of an infected monkey with monkey B virus.
Is monkey B virus monkeypox?
Monkey B virus is not the same as monkeypox. Both are different. Monkeypox virus belongs to the group of smallpox viruses that is the Orthopoxvirus genus of the Poxviridae family. While monkey B virus is Herpes virus simiae.
When monkey B virus first case reported?
The first case of the monkey B virus was reported in 1932 in a monkey handler. Afterward, till 1973 about 17 more cases were reported in the medical literature. Four more persons were found with the infection in 1987 with the first documented case of human-to-human transmission of the disease. To date, about 40 cases of the monkey B virus are reported. Recently in China, a case was also found in which a veterinarian died due to this virus infection who was doing research on the monkey.