Herpes B virus is a type of virus that is carried by Asiatic and
Old World monkeys such as the macaque and rhesus monkey.
It is transmitted to humans through the contaminated saliva of
infected monkeys, usually after a person is bitten. However,
the Herpes B virus has also been transmitted to humans by
means of scratching. There is only one documented case of a
human transmitting Herpes B virus to another human.
Symptoms usually occur within one month of exposure to the
virus. It may present with blisters and damage to the skin. The
area where the bite or scratch appeared may be painful or
numb. Eventually, Herpes B virus can lead to encephalitis
(inflammation of the brain). Herpes B virus is treated with
acyclovir, a type of antivirus medication. This medication is
usually successful if administered early enough or in mild
The macaque monkey can
transmit the Herpes B virus.
The risk of acquiring the Herpes B virus from monkeys is small, even in people who work
closely with the animals.
One reason for this appears to be that monkeys do not often expel the Herpes B virus
particles from their body. There may also be people who have the virus but do not show
Some people may be naturally protected from Herpes B virus
because they have antibodies to the Herpes simplex virus.
Antibodies are types of proteins that are formed by the body to
destroy foreign substances in the body. The herpes simplex virus is
a virus commonly known for causing flu-like symptoms and cold
Despite the low risk of acquiring the virus, people who work closely
with such monkeys must follow strict handling guidelines because
there is risk of serious complications in those who develop
symptoms of virus exposure.
Herpes B virus is also known as herpesvirus simiae, B virus, and cercopithecrine virus. Herpes B virus
comes from the Greek word "herpes" meaning "a spreading skin eruption," and the Latin word “virus”
meaning “poison.” Put the words together and you get “a spreading skin eruption poison.” The letter “B”
comes from part of the initials (W.B.) of the first human described as having the disease in 1934.