By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials with the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) in Tokyo have confirmed the first case of B virus, or herpes B infection, according to an NHK World report.

Image/Robert Herriman

According to the report, the patient is an employee with a pharmaceutical research company with a history of assisting in experiments involving monkeys.

However, there is no record of the employee being bitten by a monkey, and it remains unknown how the infection occurred.

The individual is hospitalized in critical condition.

Authorities say they have inspected the company’s facilities and found no problems with its management and control measures against infectious diseases.

B virus infection is caused by a herpes virus. B virus is also commonly referred to as herpes B, monkey B virus, herpesvirus simiae, and herpesvirus B.

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The virus is found among macaque monkeys, including rhesus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and cynomolgus monkeys (also called crab-eating or long-tailed macaques). Macaque monkeys are thought to be the natural host for the virus.

The CDC notes infection with B virus is extremely rare in humans. When it does occur, the infection can result in severe brain damage or death if the patient is not treated soon after exposure. Infection in humans is typically caused by animal bites or scratches or by mucosal contact with body fluid or tissue.

Untreated B virus infections in humans result in an extremely high mortality rate (∼80%) and, consequently, present unique and potentially lethal challenges for individuals handling macaque monkeys or macaque cells and tissues.

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