Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Hong Kong Man in Critical Condition After Contracting B Virus From Wild Monkeys

Experts are warning individuals not to feed or touch the wild monkeys in Hong Kong after a man was injured by the animals and contracted a deadly virus.

According to local health officials, the 37-year-old man, who was previously in good health, was injured by a group of wild macaque monkeys while visiting Kam Shan Country Park in February. The park, which is known for its wild monkey population, is also referred to as ‘Monkey Mountain’ by locals.

kam shan park
The man was wounded by macaque monkeys in Kam Shan Country Park, which is also known as ‘Monkey Mountain’ by locals

On March 21, the man was admitted to the hospital with a high fever and diminished consciousness. By April, he had been transferred to the ICU and was in critical condition. Health officials later confirmed that he contracted the rare and deadly B virus after testing his cerebrospinal fluid.

B virus, also known as herpesvirus simiae, commonly affects macaque monkeys, causing mild or asymptomatic disease. While human infections are rare, they are often deadly.

The virus, which comes from encounters with these primates, causes the individual to develop flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, fatigue, headache, and muscle aches, before moving to the spinal cord and brain, causing nerve damage, brain damage, and eventually death.

hk hospital
The man remains in critical condition at the hospital

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 70 percent of untreated cases are fatal in humans.

Despite the large population of macaque monkeys in Hong Kong, this is the first confirmed case of the virus. Since the B virus was first discovered in 1932, there have only been 50 human cases, 21 of which resulted in death.

The country’s first human infection was in 2021 when a Chinese veterinarian died from the virus after being wounded by a macaque.

Another case happened in 1997 when a researcher was infected by the virus after bodily fluids from an infected macaque entered her eye.

However, the CDC emphasized that contracting the B virus is extremely rare, even among those who have come into contact with the primates.

Still, experts are urging individuals to keep their distance from wild macaque monkeys and to not feed or touch the animals. Those who are scratched or bitten should seek medical attention immediately after washing the wound.

do not feed wild animals

To avoid giving the monkeys the impression that they will be fed, the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department recommends people keep food in plastic bags in their backpacks.

According to Shek Chung-tong, a Senior Fauna Conservation Officer, the monkeys may try to grab food from you if they think you will be feeding them.

He also said the number of nuisance cases has gone down significantly over the past two decades – from 1,000 cases to 200-300 in the past few years. He also emphasized that 70 percent of the monkeys living in Monkey Mountain have been sterilized and that their goal is to sterilize 80 percent of the animals by 2028.

Brooke Carter
Brooke Carter
Freelance writer who loves dogs and anything related to Japanese culture.


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