As the world battles Coronavirus infections, there is another mammal-oriented virus on the run, the Monkey B virus, B-virus, or the Macanine Herpesvirus 1 B virus infections which is usually caused by macaque monkeys. Other primates including chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys, can become infected with the B virus and will frequently die from these infections.

What is Monkey B virus?

According to ‘Human Herpesviruses: Biology, Therapy, and Immunoprophylaxis’ book definition, B virus or Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 is an alphaherpesvirus endemic in macaque monkeys, which is unique among the non-human herpesviruses as it is distinctively neurotropic and neurovirulent in the foreign human host inadvertently exposed by handling macaque monkeys generally used in biomedical research.

The first case of B virus infection was reported in 1933 when a laboratory worker was accidentally bitten by a monkey and later recovered from the bite. But, he fell ill of febrile disease with progressive symptoms of ascending myelitis and died 15 days after the first symptoms of involvement of the central nervous system (CNS).

Symptoms of Monkey B virus

B virus infections are rare among humans though many monkey bites are reported every year. Symptoms of this virus are similar to flu virus infections that include fever, chills, muscle ache, fatigue, and headache. Some of the other symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, and hiccups. And when had contact with a monkey, small blisters will develop in the wound area.

When the virus infection is untreated and the disease progresses, the virus will spread to and cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. This may eventually lead to neurologic and inflammatory symptoms near the wound site, problems with muscle coordination, brain damage, and severe damage to the nervous system. And in the end, may lead to death.

Transmission of Monkey B virus

Following the exposures involving macaques B virus infection in 1933, more than two dozen human deaths were reported and five of those in the last 12 years. Most of these people got infected after they were bitten or scratched by a monkey, or when tissue or fluids from a monkey got on their broken skin, such as by needle stick or cut.

The infectious virus is present in Macaque monkey’s saliva, feces (poop), urine (pee), or brain or spinal cord tissue. The virus can survive for hours on surfaces when moist.

China reports first Monkey B virus infection

China has reported its first-ever human infection case of the Monkey B virus (MV). According to Global Times, a Beijing-based vet succumbed to the virus after exhibiting symptoms like severe vomiting and nausea. The news comes in at the heels of the ongoing pandemic caused due to the novel Coronavirus that broke out from Wuhan, China.