China reports first death from rare Monkey B virus

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) reported this past weekend that a man had died from the rare Monkey B virus (BV).

The virus, which is also referred to as "Macacine alphaherpesvirus 1" by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, comes from monkeys of the genus Macaca and is generally transmitted through direct contact and bodily fluids. It was first isolated in 1932.

According to the CCDC's statement, the patient who contracted the virus was a 53-year-old male veterinary surgeon who worked at a Beijing institute that specialized in "nonhuman primate breeding and experimental research." He had dissected two monkeys on March 4 and 6 of this year and began experiencing nausea, vomiting and fever about a month after.

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He died on March 27 after visiting several different hospitals. This is believed to be the first fatal case of BV to be recorded in China.

"Although the risk for secondary transmission appears to be minimal, one case of human-to-human transmission of herpes B virus has previously been documented," the CCDC said. "Zoonotic BV infections have mainly involved primate veterinarians, animal care personnel, or laboratory researchers in North America."

"It is necessary to eliminate BV during the development of specific pathogen-free rhesus colonies and to strengthen surveillance in laboratory macaques and occupational workers in China," the agency added.

As The Washington Post reports, there have been fewer than 100 known cases of BV, though some may have gone undetected due to lack of awareness. There has only been on documented case of a human spreading the virus to another person.