Home Health Hong Kong issues health alert after man, 37, catches deadly ‘herpes virus B’ from infected MONKEY and fights for his life in hospital

Hong Kong issues health alert after man, 37, catches deadly ‘herpes virus B’ from infected MONKEY and fights for his life in hospital

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The man reportedly contracted the virus after being attacked by a monkey during his visit to Kam Shan Country Park, also known as Monkey Hill, in late February (file image)
  • A man contracted the virus after being attacked by a monkey in a rural park
  • He was rushed to the emergency room and is now in “critical condition.”
  • READ MORE: Inside the NIH virus lab in Montana, which has disturbing ties to Wuhan

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Hong Kong has issued a health alert after a man contracted a rare and deadly virus from a monkey bite.

The man, 37, reportedly contracted the virus after being attacked during his visit to Kam Shan Country Park, also known as Monkey Hill, in late February.

The man was rushed to the emergency room due to fever and reduced level of consciousness. He is now in the intensive care unit and is in “critical” condition.

This is the first human infection with monkey virus B, also known as herpes simiae virus, recorded in Hong Kong, but cases have previously been reported in the United States, Canada, mainland China and Japan.

The Hong Kong Center for Health Protection warned the general public to avoid touching or feeding wild monkeys to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.

The man reportedly contracted the virus after being attacked by a monkey during his visit to Kam Shan Country Park, also known as Monkey Hill, in late February (file image)

The man reportedly contracted the virus after being attacked by a monkey during his visit to Kam Shan Country Park, also known as Monkey Hill, in late February (file image)

People can become infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey (file image), if they come into contact with the monkey's eyes, nose or mouth.

People can become infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey (file image), if they come into contact with the monkey's eyes, nose or mouth.

People can become infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey (file image), if they come into contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Otherwise, the man was in good health, according to a statement posted on the Hong Kong government website and was admitted to hospital on March 21.

On Wednesday, fluid from his spine tested positive for the B virus.

According to the CDC, the virus is extremely rare, but can cause serious brain damage or death if not treated quickly.

The herpes B virus kills about 70 percent of sufferers if not diagnosed and treated in time.

People can become infected if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey, or if they come into contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose, or mouth.

Macaque monkeys are often infected by the virus, but do not show symptoms.

Symptoms in people begin as typical flu-like symptoms, including fever and chills, muscle pain, fatigue, and headache. Other signs may include nausea and difficulty breathing.

People may develop small blisters on the wound or area that has been in contact with the monkey.

Symptoms usually begin within a month of being exposed to an infected monkey, but can appear as early as three days.

There has only been one case of an infected person transmitting the B virus to another person.

The herpes B virus is found naturally in the saliva, urine and feces of macaques, which are frequently found in Hong Kong, according to the CDC.

There is currently no vaccine against herpes B.

The virus belongs to the herpes family. There are more than 100 known herpesviruses, but eight commonly infect only humans.

Since the virus was discovered in 1932, 50 human cases have been documented. About two-thirds of them occurred in the United States. Of the 50 cases, 21 were fatal.

The virus can be treated with antiviral medications. Antiretroviral therapy is sometimes used, depending on the condition of the macaque monkey, how well and how quickly the wound was cleaned, and the nature of the wound.

WHAT IS HERPES B?

The herpes B virus kills about 70 percent of sufferers unless they receive immediate treatment.

It is transmitted through macaque monkeys.

Macaques housed in primate facilities usually become infected as adults, but often do not show symptoms.

Infection in humans is extremely rare.

Since the virus was discovered in 1932, 50 human cases have been documented, of which 21 were fatal.

Most of these infections occurred from animal bites or scratches, or from contaminated materials, such as a needle, penetrating broken skin.

However, one scientist died in 1997 after bodily fluids from an infected animal were splashed in his eye.

Veterinarians and laboratory workers are most at risk.

The herpes B virus can survive for hours on objects, especially if they are moist.

Illness onset usually occurs within a month of exposure to the virus, but can take as little as three days.

Symptoms include:

  • Blisters at the exposure site.
  • Pain, numbness, or itching at the site.
  • Flu-like aches and pains
  • Fever and chills
  • Headaches that last more than a day.
  • Fatigue
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty breathing

If the virus is not treated immediately and therefore enters the central nervous system, most patients die even with treatment.

The most common cause of death is respiratory failure with paralysis, which begins in the lower limbs and ascends.

The few who survive often suffer lasting brain damage.

If a person suspects they may be infected, they may need preventive antiviral therapy up to five times a day for two weeks.

Treatment depends on whether the central nervous system is thought to be affected, but usually involves antiviral medications given intravenously twice a day.

There is no vaccine against herpes B.

Those working with macaque monkeys should wear appropriate protective clothing, including gloves and a face shield.

Animals should also be treated humanely to reduce the risk of bites and scratches.

Fountain: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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