Man dies of rare Monkey-B virus that jumped to humans – signs to know

A MAN has died from Monkey-B virus in China – only the 22nd in the world.

The 53-year-old with the brain-swelling disease died in May after being sick for weeks.

The vet contracted the rare virus while dissecting two dead monkeys in early March.

He started showing symptoms of nausea and vomiting a month later, followed by fever with “neurological symptoms” which may include tingling.

“As a result, the patient visited doctor[s] in several hospitals but eventually died on May 27”, according to a statement from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The man had worked "in an institute specialised in non-human primate breeding and experimental research in Beijing".

Two close contacts – a doctor and nurse – were checked to see if they were carrying the virus but came back negative.

The virus, also known as herpes B virus, is transmitted through direct contact and exchange of bodily fluids between monkeys, according to the Chinese CDC.

It’s harmless to primates but kills between 70 and 80 per cent of humans infected.

Chinese health officials said Monkey-B virus may “pose a potential threat to occupational workers” such as vets.

Human threat?

This is the first case of Monkey-B virus recorded in China.

Most have been in North America in vets or animal workers.

Only 50 people have been documented to have infections in 88 years; 21 of whom died, according to Health officials in the US at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The last recorded death was in 1997; a researcher named Elizabeth Griffin, 22, died from the virus after bodily fluid from an infected monkey splashed into her eye.

Most 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.

But hundreds of bites and scratches occur every year in monkey facilities in the US, but people rarely get infected.

Still, the CDC warns that if you visit somewhere that has macaque monkeys – the most commonly infected – you should keep your distance.

There has been only one reported case of human to human infection.

What are the symptoms?

Similar to coronavirus, the first symptoms of the Monkey-B virus are flu-like, which include fever and chills, muscle ache, fatigue, headache.

The symptoms may vary between one day to three weeks.

The first signs, according to the US CDC, are:

  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle ache
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Then a patient may develop small blisters in the wound or area that had contact with the monkey.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hiccups

As the disease progresses, the virus spreads to and causes inflammation (swelling) of the brain and spinal cord.

This can lead to:

  • Neurologic and inflammatory symptoms (pain, numbness, itching) near the wound site
  • Problems with muscle coordination
  • Brain damage and severe damage to the nervous system
  • Death
  • Problems with breathing and death can occur one day to three weeks after symptoms appear.

It may be possible for people to have mild B virus infection or no symptoms. However, there are no studies or evidence of this.

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