#HealthBytes: Everything you should know about monkey B virus
While the world is still reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic, monkey B virus infections have raised concerns. Last month, China reported the first death caused by the infection. A Beijing-based veterinarian, who had dissected two dead monkeys, showed symptoms of the disease and eventually succumbed to it in May. Here's everything you should know about the disease.
What is the monkey B Virus?
Monkey B virus is a type of herpes virus. This extremely rare viral infection is transmitted to humans by the macaque, chimpanzee, and capuchin monkeys. It was first identified in 1932 and is the only old-world-monkey herpes virus that could cause severe infections in humans. Until 2020, there have only been 50 reported cases of the infection of which 21 people have died.
How is the virus transmitted to humans?
According to the US CDC, the B virus is transmitted to humans when a person comes in contact with the fluids of infected monkeys. The virus may also be found in the cells of an infected monkey in a lab and can typically survive for hours on surfaces. In humans, the incubation period is reported to range from two days to 5 weeks.
What are the symptoms of the virus?
The initial symptoms that usually develop around 1-3 weeks after exposure to the virus include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, chills, and rash/itchy wounds. Other symptoms that later follow are meningismus, nausea, vomiting, confusion, diplopia, dysphagia, dysarthria, seizures, respiratory failure, cranial nerve palsies, ataxia, among others. As the infection worsens, it can cause the loss of muscle coordination, paralysis, and neurological damage leading to comatose.
Treatment and prevention
There is presently no known cure for the monkey B virus, and it is best to avoid areas like forests, where you may come in contact with monkeys. However, if you have been bitten or scratched by a monkey, experts suggest that you should continuously wash the area with soap or iodine for a minimum of 15 minutes to avoid the risk of infection.