Wild Monkeys Bite Hong Kong Man, Giving Him the Rare ‘Monkey B Virus’ Herpesvirus Simiae

Wild monkeys had bitten a man in Hong Kong earlier this year, giving him the rare yet potentially lethal monkey B virus known as Herpesvirus simiae. The incident, involving a 37-year-old Hong Kong man, occurred in Kam Shan Country Park in late February. It was only on March 21 when he was rushed to hospital, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), an agency under Hong Kong’s Department of Health, announced in early April.

The patient was diagnosed with fever and “decreased conscious level,” according to Hong Kong health authorities, who discovered the man contracted the herpes B virus, which is commonly found in the feces, saliva, and urine of macaque monkeys.

In 2021, the first-ever human death from the monkey B virus was reported in China, where a veterinarian died after contracting the disease from a wild monkey bite.

Wild Monkey Bite in Hong Kong

Wild Monkeys Bite Hong Kong Man, Giving Him the Rare 'Monkey B Virus' Herpesvirus Simiae
(Photo : Photo by Jillian Amatt – Artistic Voyages on Unsplash)

According to a recent press release, Hong Kong’s CHP is investigating the area’s first case of human infection from the B virus, also known as the herpes simiae virus. The health agency urged the public to avoid feeding or touching wild monkeys to minimize the risk of acquiring the pathogen. Based on the announcement, the case involved a Hong Kong man with good past health. Following the incident, he was admitted to Yan Chai Hospital.

The monkey bite incident happened when the man visited Kam Shan Country Park, where he made contacts with wild monkeys and was wounded by the primates, according to reported information provided by initial investigations and the patient’s family members. A CHP spokesman confirmed this is the first B virus human infection recorded in Hong Kong but clarified that previous cases had been reported in other countries like the United States, Canada, and Japan.

Also Read: Monkey and Pigs Are Spreading Diseases and Destroying Crops Across the World

What is the Monkey B Virus?

The monkey B virus is contracted from macaques, a type of wild monkeys abundant in Hong Kong, and is typically spread by bites or scratches by monkeys, according to the CHP on April 5. In addition, they can also be spread through human-to-human transmission but have been considered by health experts as “very rare.”

Overall, B virus human infections are rare, with only around 50 people being infected globally since 1932.

The most common B virus symptoms are fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and headache, the Hong Kong health agency adds. Furthermore, the herpes simiae virus can spread to the body’s central nervous system as the disease progresses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the B virus infection can lead to severe brain damage or death if medical treatment is not immediately provided.

Following a monkey bite or scratch, an infected person may develop small blisters in or around the wound. Afterward, symptoms may start within a month after exposure to the monkey B virus and may appear in as early as three to seven days, the CDC says.

Related Article: First Ever Human Death Due to Highly Fatal Monkey B Virus Reported in China

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