Monkey encounter lands 37-year-old man in ICU with B virus infection from Kam Shan Country Park

1910
Kam Shan Country Park

3rd April 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) has launched an investigation into a case of human infection of B virus, also known as human simiae virus. The CHP is urging the public to refrain from touching or feeding wild monkeys in order to minimise the risk of contracting the virus.

The affected individual is a 37-year-old man with no significant medical history. He was admitted to Yan Chai Hospital on 21st March after experiencing fever and a decreased level of consciousness. Currently, he is receiving critical care at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. Today, the CHP’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch confirmed the presence of B virus in the patient’s cerebrospinal fluid specimen.

Preliminary investigations and information provided by the patient’s family members indicate that he had come into contact with wild monkeys and sustained injuries from them during a visit to Kam Shan Country Park in late February. Epidemiological investigations are currently underway to gather further details.

While this is the first recorded case of B virus infection reported by the CHP, instances of such infections have been documented in other regions, including the United States, Canada, mainland China, and Japan. These cases typically result from bites or scratches by monkeys, with human-to-human transmissions being exceedingly rare. The CHP strongly advises the public to exercise caution and avoid any contact or attempts to feed wild monkeys.

The CHP spokesman emphasised that B virus is naturally present in the saliva, urine, and faeces of macaques, a species of wild monkeys commonly found in Hong Kong. Infected individuals may initially experience flu-like symptoms that can progress to central nervous system infection.

To minimise the risk of acquiring B virus, the public is advised to adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Steer clear of wild monkeys and refrain from touching or feeding them.
  • In the event of any wounds caused by monkeys, promptly cleanse the wound with running water and seek immediate medical attention.