Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 CDC Home Search Health Topics A-Z

National Center for Infectious Diseases 
B Virus (Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1) Infection


B virus, or Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1, is an infectious agent that is commonly found among macaque monkeys, including rhesus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and cynomolgus monkeys. Monkeys infected with this virus usually have no or mild symptoms. In humans, however, B virus infection can result in a fatal encephalomyelitis. B virus disease in humans is extremely rare, but often fatal -- an estimated 80% of untreated patients die of complications associated with the infection.

Persons at greatest risk for B virus infection include veterinarians, laboratory workers, and others who have close contact with Old World macaques or monkey cell cultures. Infection is typically caused by animal bites, scratches, or exposure to the tissues or secretions of macaques. In late 1997, a worker at a primate center died from B virus infection that developed after biologic material from a monkey was splashed into the patient's eye. In response to this case, CDC formed a working group to reassess the existing recommendations for the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of B virus infection in humans.

The group's report, Recommendations for Prevention of and Therapy for Exposure to B Virus (Cercopithecine Herpesvirus 1) (PDF pdf icon 135 KB, 13 pages), was published November 15, 2002, in Clinical Infectious Diseases. This report updates previous recommendations and describes the use of newer antiviral agents in postexposure prophylaxis.

For additional information about B virus, contact:

Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Herpesvirus Laboratory Branch
Herpesvirus Team
National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases
Division of Viral Diseases
Mail Stop G-18
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA 30333

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Herpes B Virus Resource Laboratory
Georgia State University
50 Decatur Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30302-4118


CDC Articles

Fatal Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 (B virus) infection following a mucocutaneous exposure and interim recommendations for worker protection. MMWR 1998; 47:1073-6, 1083.

Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1 (B virus) infection resulting from ocular exposure. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Web site.

Ostrowski SR, Leslie MJ, Parrott T, Abelt S, Piercy PE. B-virus from pet macaque monkeys: an emerging threat in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis 1998;4:117-120.

Guidelines for the prevention of Herpesvirus simiae (B virus) infection in monkey handlers. MMWR 1987;36:680-2, 687-9.

Non-CDC Articles

Holmes GP, Chapman LE, Stewart JA, Straus SE, Hilliard JK, Davenport DS, The B Virus Working Group. Guidelines for the prevention and treatment of B-virus infections in exposed persons. Clin Infect Dis 1995;20:421-39.

CDC Home | Search | Health Topics A-Z

This page last reviewed December 18, 2007

National Center for Infectious Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention