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You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Identification of Simian HerpesVirus B in a colony of 215 Rhesus monkeys at Woburn Safari Park lead to their humane destruction because of the potential health risk to humans

Simian Herpes Virus B reached the headlines recently when a boy living in the United States of America died after a monkey infected with the virus spat at him. As a result health authorities are reported to have upgraded the disease to the same status as two of the most serious diseases in the world - Ebola and Lassa. 

The problem for people is that monkeys can carry this virus without showing any signs of illness and it is believed to be very common amongst captive monkeys with between 80-90% of Macaques reported to be carrying the infection. 

The disease can be transmitted to humans through a bite or scratch - or spit, but fortunately infection is rare in humans - with only 40 cases having been reported in the 60 years between 1933 and 1994, and there have been no cases at all reported in the UK during the past 25 years. However, we can not be complacent because there is no treatment for the infection and nearly 80% of humans who do contract the disease die as a result. 

Eleven monkeys were found to be positive for the virus at Woburn following routine screening tests and the decision to humanely destroy the colony has been criticised by some animal welfare organisations. On the other hand the health authorities have a duty to protect the public from serious infectious agents such as Simian Herpes Virus B, and in view of the unfortunate death of the boy reported in the USA who would risk keeping infected captive monkeys alive ?


Updated October 2013