The world is still fighting the Coronavirus pandemic and a new viral infection has been reported in China. The Monkey B Virus (BV) has already claimed a life after a veterinary surgeon contacted the virus while dissecting two animals.

The first case was reported in March of this year. This was revealed last week by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) during a briefing. 

The surgeon who contracted the virus died in May after visiting several hospitals.  Blister fluid, blood, nasal swab, throat swab, and plasma were also collected from the patient further sequencing. As per reports, analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid from the patient inferred at alphaherpesvirus infection.

The patient's samples were sent to the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention (IVDC) of China CDC, where the samples tested were specified as that of Monkey BV.

WHAT IS THE MONKEY B VIRUS (BV)?

The Monkey B virus is caused and transmitted by macaques that serve as a host but chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys can also be infected and die as a result. The B virus is also commonly referred to as herpes B, monkey B virus, herpesvirus simiae, and herpesvirus B.

The B Virus infections in people were rare and since its first detection in 1932, it has infected just 50 people. Only 21 of them died, said US CDC.

The Chinese surgeon who succumbed to the virus was the only human casualty and there have been no reports of human to human transmission so far and contact tracing showed negative results.

Since 1932 the 50 documented cases were a result of infection after they were bitten or scratched by a monkey or when their broken skin was exposed to the tissue or fluids from an infected monkey.

Usually found in the saliva, faeces, urine, brain or spinal cord tissue of macaques, the virus can survive for hours on moist surfaces. Laboratory workers, veterinarians and others who may be exposed to monkeys or their specimens regularly are at high risk of contracting the virus. The risk of infection of the common public is low.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE MONKEY B VIRUS?

Similar to COVID-19, the initial symptoms of the Monkey BV include fever, chills, body ache, fatigue and headache. In addition to these flu-like symptoms, the infected person can also exhibit small blisters in wounds. Other known symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and hiccups.

With the progression of the disease, the virus may lead to brain and spinal cord swelling, resulting in neurological and inflammatory symptoms, muscle coordination issues, brain damage and extensive nervous system damage eventually leading to death. As per CDC reports, the symptoms may vary between one day to three weeks.


HOW IS THE MONKEY B VIRUS TREATED?

At present, there is no effective cure or vaccine for the Monkey B Virus. The only recourse is timely antiviral medication could help in reducing the risk to life.

- As per doctors advice, if a person is a bit by a monkey:

- Wash and gently scrub the wound with soap or iodine for 15 minutes

- Run water over the wound for another 15 to 20 minutes

- Seek medical attention immediately.


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