A lab worker says his body is turning NUMB after catching a rare deadly virus – from a research monkey.

Dad-of-two Brian Lee, 60, is one of around 20 people in the world with Herpes B Virus and has been living a “nightmare” for the past 10 years.

He appears to have been the only person with B Virus whose case has been reported in the media since the 1997 transmission, but others are believed to have occurred.

The virus is harmless to primates but fatal to humans in 80 per cent of cases if untreated, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord which leads to paralysis.

Brian Lee with his wife Margarita

Brian’s body is going numb

Brian was struck down with it while working at Texas Biomedical Research Institute, where 2,500 primates are tested on for research into diseases such as AIDs.

His job was to clean enclosures and feed monkeys, and each day he layered up in a protective bodysuit and glasses to protect from splashes and bites.

But over the summer 2008, water splashed in his eye when he was spraying down a cage and he was also cut by a shard of plastic which tore his bodysuit.

On August 19, 2008, after undergoing a routine medical exam testing for B Virus, he received a phone call telling him he had been infected.

He was rushed to hospital where he spent six days hooked up to an IV and having various tests before being prescribed anti-viral medication and discharged.

He was infected by a monkey in a research lab

He doesn’t know what the future will hold

Ten years on, Brian, of San Antonio, Texas, says his life has never been the same and revealed how, starting with his face, his body has gradually turned numb.

The grandfather-of-four said: “It has been a nightmare.

“Before this happened I felt like I was in control of my life and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do.

“Then I got the diagnosis and it was surreal. I was in shock. I knew I had an exposure but the possibility of actually having the virus was remote.

“I didn’t know what the next step would be or what the next day would bring and I was totally traumatised.

“Knowing that most people die within days of getting it… at that point, what do you do? I was in the doctors’ hands.

“Walking out of the hospital I felt that my face was numb and my cheeks felt funny. I ran straight back in and they said, ‘It’s the virus or the medication.’

He says he is living a nightmare

He was infected in 2008

“After that I came home and little by little, piece by piece, my body started having that kind of reaction.

“One day I was taking a shower and washed my leg and it was numb. That was terrifying because I knew it was another step. Now my whole body is numb.

“My balance is off, I have tingling in my feet and I also have a feeling of heaviness on my chest.

“It is scary because I don’t know what the future holds for me.

“Even with the antiviral therapy, most patients die of the encephalomyelitis or complications of the virus.

“I feel like I’m alone dealing with this because I can’t talk to anybody else who has it.

“If someone has cancer or some other disease, you can relate and talk to somebody. I’m not able to do that.”

Since B Virus was discovered in 1932, there have been around 50 documented human infections, 21 of which were fatal, according to US government figures.

The virus is so dangerous that the US Department of Justice listed it as a potential tactical agent of terrorism in 2003.

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To keep frightening symptoms at bay, Brian takes anti-viral drug Valtrex, which halts but does not cure herpes outbreaks and is usually prescribed for only around a week.

It is not clear what is causing him to experience numbness, but Dr Julia Hilliard said the symptom has been experienced by others who have been diagnosed with B Virus.

The Georgia State University professor, who is director of the B Virus Resource Center, said: “It’s like roulette.

“In some people it is completely dormant but in others it has caused neurological problems which cause death or a slow decline.

“They report tingling, burning, headaches or temperature sensitivity that is very painful for them to stand.”

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