Japanese lab worker infected with herpes B virus by a monkey


  • On Friday, an unnamed employee of a Japanese pharmaceutical company who was involved in the study of macaque monkeys was confirmed to have been infected with herpes B virus, the first case ever reported in the country.
  • According to NHK Japan, the worker, who first complained of fever and headache, is now in critical condition.
  • While herpes B virus infection in humans is extremely rare, once infected, people have to get treated immediately because aside from the virus causing an inflammation of the brain, it is often fatal.

For the first time, a herpes B virus infection has been reported in Japan after a lab worker was found to have acquired the infection from a monkey. NHK Japan said on Friday that the unnamed employee of a Japanese pharmaceutical research and development company is now in critical condition after falling ill while conducting experiments on macaque monkeys near Kagoshima City.

Typically, B virus infection in people is caused by contact with monkeys. Because there is no record that the employee had been bitten by a monkey, it isn’t yet known how he got infected.

However, in most cases, people have been either bitten or scratched by a monkey. Humans getting infected with the B virus are extremely rare worldwide. In fact, only 50 cases have been reported so far in almost 90 years.

According to the news outlet, officials said the worker went to the hospital complaining of fever and headache. They also said that the patient had been studying monkeys and involved in the research and development of drugs.

Although harmless to primates, the virus can lead to severe brain damage or death in humans when left untreated. In 1997, a primate researcher died of complications from herpes B after an infected monkey splashed a drop of body fluid at her face.

Source: New York Post

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