A Beijing-based veterinary surgeon was infected with the virus after he dissected two dead monkeys in early March.(Raj K Raj / HT Photo)
A Beijing-based veterinary surgeon was infected with the virus after he dissected two dead monkeys in early March.(Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

China reports first human death from Monkey B Virus. All you need to know

  • A Beijing-based veterinarian started experiencing nausea and vomiting and a month later, fever and neurological symptoms followed.
By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 18, 2021 06:46 PM IST

China has reported its first human infection with Monkey B Virus (BV) and subsequent death. A Beijing-based veterinary surgeon was infected with the virus after he dissected two dead monkeys in early March, according to China CDC Weekly.

The 53-year-old veterinarian started experiencing nausea and vomiting and a month later, fever and neurological symptoms followed. He visited several hospitals but eventually died on May 27, China CDC Weekly revealed Saturday.

Around mid-April, researchers collected cerebrospinal fluid from the patient for next-generation sequencing and the readings suggested possible alphaherpesvirus infection. They also collected several specimens including blister fluid, blood, nasal swab, throat swab, and plasma to further identify the etiological agent.

The samples were sent to the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention (IVDC) of China CDC. The IVDC conducted four sets of RT-PCR to detect BV, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), monkeypox virus and orthopoxvirus, however, the sample tested positive only for BV.

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All close contacts of the patient are reported to have tested negative for the virus and are safe from it, for now, reported Global Times. Citing the first human fatality from Monkey BV, China CDC Weekly said that the virus might pose a zoonotic threat to primate veterinarians, animal care personnel, or laboratory researchers.

The journal stressed the need to eliminate the virus during the development of “specific pathogen-free rhesus colonies” and to strengthen surveillance in laboratory macaques and occupational workers in China.

Here’s all you need to know about Monkey BV:

  • Monkey BV, an alphaherpesvirus enzootic in macaques, was initially isolated in 1932.
  • According to China CDC Weekly, the virus is generally transmitted via direct contact and exchange of bodily fluid secretions.
  • While BV is not evident in its natural macaque hosts, about 60 cases of pathogenic zoonotic BV infection have occurred, with the fatality rate around 70%–80%, the journal said.
  • According to a report published in the US National Library of Medicine, BV has a propensity to invade the central nervous system when transmitted to humans.
  • The 2008 report said that the development and maintenance of true BV specific pathogen-free macaque colonies, as suggested by China CDC Weekly, has proven difficult.
  • The initial symptoms usually develop around 1-3 weeks after exposure to the virus.
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