Herpes B virus infection

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Herpes B virus (B virus) infection is common in macaques. Primary infection of B virus in primates is similar to herpes simplex virus 1 infection in human beings, but B virus generally produces only mild localized lesions in its natural host. In human beings, however, B virus can cause severe infection that may lead to death from encephalitis. Contact with monkey saliva, tissues, or tissue fluids is the most commonly reported route of transmission of B virus; a single case of person-to-person transmission has been reported. Airborne transmission is postulated to have occurred as a result of clinical circumstances in two reported cases, but there is no strong evidence to support the hypothesis of aerosol infection. Because B virus infection in human beings is often fatal, awareness of the risk of B virus infection should be emphasized. Although B virus infection in human beings is rare, it is an occupational health risk in exposed health care workers and laboratory personnel. This review of the literature of B virus infection includes case reports and a discussion of the nature of the B virus, characteristics of B virus infection in primates and human beings, the treatment of human infection, and the implications for dental health care providers. This report also serves as an introduction of the disease to the dental literature.

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