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.
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. Macaques infected with B virus usually have no or only mild symptoms. Macaques housed in primate facilities usually become B virus positive by the time they reach adulthood. However, infection in macaques can only be transmitted during active viral shedding through body fluids.
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 (see Risks for Infection and Treatment sections). Infection in humans is typically caused by animal bites or scratches or by mucosal contact with body fluid or tissue.
Risk for Infection
Persons at greatest risk for B virus infection are veterinarians, laboratory workers, and others who have close contact with Old World macaques or monkey cell cultures.
The decision about whether to implement antiviral therapy or not should take into account the following criteria:
- Type and physical condition of the implicated monkey
- Thoroughness and timeliness of wound cleansing procedure
- Nature of the wound
- Exposure to materials that have come into contact with macaques
- Page last reviewed: July 18, 2014
- Page last updated: July 18, 2014
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