CDC warns of herpes after freak macaque attack

By Joy Lee, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The 10 tourists wounded by wild macaques could be at risk of rabies and herpes B infections if they do not receive vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

According to the CDC, 10 tourists were wounded by wild monkeys at Yushan National Park. The Council of Agriculture (COA) captured the three monkeys on Oct. 14.

Eight out of the 10 tourists who were wounded by the wild monkeys have already received rabies vaccinations while two tourists were not willing to receive vaccinations, the CDC said, but the authority will keep tracking the health conditions of all the wounded.

The CDC said that a veterinarian discovered signs from two of the captured wild monkeys that suggested that they might be infected with herpes, and that the virus could possibly be transferred to humans.

CDC Deputy Director Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that the death rate for people who are infected with the herpes B virus could reach 70 percent if the patients do not receive proper medical treatment.

“The disease can also result in severe neurologic impairment for people who are infected with herpes B virus,” said Chuang.

“Herpes B virus is a contagious disease that damages the central nervous system of the person who is wounded by a monkey infected with herpes B virus and the incubation period of the disease ranges between three days to three weeks,” said Chuang.

“The symptoms for people infected with herpes B virus include fever and chills, headache, vesicular (small blister) skin lesions and fatigue,” said Chuang. “However, it is extremely rare for humans to be infected by herpes B virus and only 40 cases have been reported in the world so far.” Chuang said that if people are injured by wild monkeys, they should go to a nearby hospital as soon as possible to receive rabies vaccinations. If small blisters start to show at or near the site of the wound, the patients should seek for professional medical help immediately.

The CDC also asked people to stay away from wild monkeys to avoid being scratched or bitten that can lead to infections.

The first rabies case in decades was discovered in early July and 158 ferret-badgers, one house shrew, and one dog that was bitten by a ferret-badger have been confirmed to be infected with rabies so far.