China reports first human case of Monkey B virus after veterinarian dies

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A veterinarian in China has become the first person in the country to contract and die from the extremely rare Monkey B virus, Chinese officials said last weekend, according to reports.

The veterinarian, 53, suffered from severe nausea and fever two months after dissecting two monkeys at a reproductive research institute in Beijing and died on May 27, according to the Washington Post.

The Monkey B virus, also known as the Herpes B virus, typically comes from contact with a macaque monkey and can cause severe brain damage or death, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus attacks the central nervous system and has a death rate of around 80% if left untreated, the Post reported, citing infectious disease expert Kentaro Iwata from the University of Kobe of Japan.

The CDC says there is only one documented case of the virus spreading from person to person.

A U.S. resident who had traveled to Nigeria was diagnosed with monkey pox last week after returning to Texas, according to the CDC.

LINGSHUI, April 4, 2021 - Macaques rest at the monkey islet of Nanwan, Lingshui County, south China's Hainan Province, April 4, 2021 (Photo by Guo Cheng / Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua / Guo Cheng via Getty Images)
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LINGSHUI, April 4, 2021 – Macaques rest at the monkey islet of Nanwan, Lingshui County, south China’s Hainan Province, April 4, 2021 (Photo by Guo Cheng / Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua / Guo Cheng via Getty Images)

MONKEYPOX DETECTED AT A HOSPITALIZED AMERICAN RESIDENT WHO VISITED NIGERIA, CDC AND TEXAS OFFICIALS CONFIRM

Monkeypox is a completely different virus – it causes flu-like symptoms and a rash, and is linked to smallpox – but both viruses can be contracted through contact with animals.

Herpesvirus Herpesvirus Simiae or Monkey B Virus leads to fatal encephalomyelitis.  Image taken from a transmission electron microscope view, viral diameter 180 nm.  (Photo by BSIP / UIG via Getty Images)

Herpesvirus Herpesvirus Simiae or Monkey B Virus leads to fatal encephalomyelitis. Image taken from a transmission electron microscope view, viral diameter 180 nm. (Photo by BSIP / UIG via Getty Images)

After the Chinese vet’s blood and saliva samples tested positive for the Monkey B virus, two of his colleagues tested negative, according to the Post.

The virus was first detected in 1932 and since there have been less than 100 human cases diagnosed, the newspaper reported.

American primate researcher Elizabeth R. Griffin died in 1997 at the age of 22, six weeks after a macaque monkey threw infected fluid into her eye. Griffin’s infection was preventable and his diagnosis and treatment were delayed, according to his bio on the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation website.

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His family then founded the organization in his honor, which focuses on prevention through biosafety training.

Chinese health officials have said there is a need to “strengthen surveillance of laboratory and worker macaques,” the Post reported.

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