BEIJING – A 53-year-old veterinarian died after contracting a rare monkey virus known as “monkey B virus” or herpes B. Chinese health officials said the man was the first case in the country.
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According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, he worked at a research institute specializing in primate reproduction and had worked on the dissection of two monkeys killed in March. He developed symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and fever in April, and died on May 27th. After several tests, monkey B virus was found in the patient’s blood and saliva. Two other people who had contact were also tested, however, the samples collected were negative for the virus.
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Since the first case of primate-to-human transmission in 1932, there have been fewer than 100 reports of human herpes B infections, most detected in North America, according to Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease expert in Japan in an interview with the Washington Post .
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Iwata adds that the disease tends to attack the central nervous system and cause inflammation in the brain, which leads to unconsciousness. If left untreated, the mortality rate is 80%.
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Scientists, researchers and veterinarians are the most common victims of the disease, and it often spreads from bites, scratches or exposure to brain and spinal cord tissue, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC).