A Chinese veterinarian has become the first person in the country to contract and die of the rare Monkey B virus, Chinese officials announced last weekend.
There has been increased vigilance over the spread and impact of exotic diseases ever since the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, which was first officially reported by Chinese health officials in early 2020, made its way into public consciousness.
According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the veterinarian, 53, suffered a fever and severe nausea after dissecting two monkeys at a breeding research institute in Beijing. He died on May 27, the Washington Post reported.
The Monkey B virus, also known as the Herpes B virus, is found among macaque monkeys. The disease, though extremely rare, is often deadly when spread to humans. In humans the disease attacks the central nervous system, causing inflammation to the brain.
If untreated, the virus has about an 80 per cent fatality rate, the Post reported, citing infectious disease expert Kentaro Iwata of Japan’s Kobe University.
The CDC reports there is only one documented case of the virus spreading from person to person.
The news of the Monkey B virus follows news of a U.S. resident who recently visited Nigeria and was diagnosed with monkeypox last week after returning to Texas, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox is a completely different virus from the Monkey B virus and is linked to smallpox. Both viruses are contracted through contact with animals.
According to the Post, the Chinese veterinarian’s blood and saliva samples tested positive for Monkey B virus. Two of his colleagues tested negative.
There have been less than 100 reported cases of Herpes B since the first case of primate-to-human transmission in 1932. Experts still believe the virus is extremely rare among humans.
Chinese health authorities said it’s necessary to "strengthen surveillance in laboratory macaques and occupational workers," the Post reported.