Monkey Herpes B Virus | Driver Michelle Fallon, whom stopped to help when truck crashed in Pennsylvania with 100 monkeys, and put her hand in one of the cages says she now has a cough and pink eye after one of the macaques hissed in her face.
A truck transporting one hundred monkeys had crash last week off of Interstate 80. Authorities had asked for people to contact them should they see monkeys. At the end, all one hundred monkeys were accounted for.
It has been reported that so far, one woman whom has been exposed and in contact with the monkeys is now on antivirals.
B virus infection is extremely rare, but it can lead to severe brain damage or death if you do not get treatment immediately. People typically get infected with B virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Only one case has been documented of an infected person spreading B virus to another person.
The first indications of B virus infection are typically flu-like symptoms:
- fever and chills
- muscle ache
You may develop small blisters in the wound or area on your body that had contact with the monkey.
Other symptoms may include: Shortness of breath, Nausea and vomiting, Abdominal pain and/or Hiccups
Symptoms typically start within one month of being exposed to a monkey with B virus infection, but could appear in as little as three to seven days.
You can get infected with B virus if you:
- are bitten or scratched by an infected monkey
- get an infected monkey’s tissue or fluid on your broken skin or in your eyes, nose, or mouth
- have a needle stick by a contaminated syringe
- scratch or cut yourself on a contaminated cage or other sharp-edged surface
- are exposed to the brain (especially), spinal cord, or skull of an infected monkey
B virus infections in people are usually caused by macaque monkeys. These kinds of monkeys are commonly infected with B virus, but they usually do not have symptoms, or have just mild disease. Other primates, such as chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys, can become infected with B virus and will frequently die from these infections. There have not been documented cases of such primates spreading B virus except to macaques.
B virus infections in people are rare. Since B virus was identified in 1932, only 50 people have been documented to have infections; 21 of them died. Most of these people got infected after they were bitten or scratched by a monkey, or when tissue or fluids from a monkey got on their broken skin, such as by needle stick or cut. In 1997, a researcher died from B virus infection after bodily fluid from an infected monkey splashed into her eye.
Hundreds of bites and scratches occur every year in monkey facilities in the United States, but people rarely get infected with B virus. A study of more than 300 animal care workers showed that none had B virus infection, including the 166 workers who had possible exposures to monkeys.
While exposures from unpredictable, potentially aggressive animals are not completely preventable, adherence to appropriate laboratory and animal facility protocols greatly reduces the risk of B virus transmission.
- Work with B virus–susceptible monkeys using humane restraint methods that reduce the risk of bites and scratches.
- Use proper personal protective equipment – including a lab coat, gloves, and a face shield – when working with macaque monkeys.
- Cleanse any bites, scratches, or exposure to the tissues or secretions of macaques immediately, as detailed in the First Aid section.
- Following B virus exposure, send samples from the person who was exposed and the associated monkey for B virus diagnostic testing (see Laboratory Testing section).
- On external surfaces, B virus is susceptible to 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, 2% glutaraldehyde, and formaldehyde. The virus can also be inactivated by heat treatment at 50°–60°C for at least 30 minutes, by lipid solvents, by exposure to acidic pH, and by detergents.
Note: B virus can remain viable in a monkey’s central nervous system (CNS) tissue and saliva, and in monkey kidney cell cultures. The virus can also survive up to 7 days at 37°C or for weeks at 4°C, and it is stable at −70°C. Studies under conditions of virus desiccation (dry surfaces) have not been done; however, it is presumed that survival times will be comparable to those of other herpesviruses that affect mammals (with typical survival times of 3 to 6 hours).
There are no vaccines that can protect you against B virus infection.
If you are in a place where there are macaque monkeys, you should stay away from them so that you do not get bitten or scratched. You should not touch or feed monkeys.
Laboratory workers, veterinarians, and others who may be exposed to monkeys or their specimens have a higher risk of getting B virus. See the section on People at High Risk for Infection for ways to help protect yourself.