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MAN IN CHINA DIES OF RARE ‘MONKEY B’ VIRUS
A veterinarian in China has died after he contracted an extremely rare viral infection known to infect monkeys. The 53-year-old veterinarian is the first known human case of this virus, called monkey B virus, to be reported in China.
The man worked as a veterinary surgeon at a Beijing-based institute that specialises in experimental research in non-human primates. In early March he dissected two dead monkeys; a month later he developed a fever, nausea, vomiting and neurological symptoms. Despite treatment at several hospitals, the man died on 27 May.
Doctors diagnosed the man with monkey B virus, also known as B virus. The virus most commonly infects macaque monkeys, and it’s rarely seen in humans – there have been just 50 human cases reported since it was discovered in 1932. But when the virus does ‘jump’ from monkey to person, it is often deadly. Of the 50 people infected, 21 have died. Most of the human cases have occurred in people who work with monkeys, such as veterinarians or researchers.
Once the virus jumps to humans, it doesn’t spread easily between people. There has been just one reported case of a B virus infection in a human spreading to another person.