Florida monkeys could pass killer herpes to people

Henrietta Strickland
January 13, 2018

People in Florida are advised to stay away from the monkeys living in the state due to the risk of being infected with a possibly fatal strain of herpes.

State officials would not go into detail about their plan for removing the monkeys going forward.

There are more than 200 rhesus macaque monkeys throughout Silver Springs State Park in Marion County since there first arrival to the area since the mid 1930's for a movie shoot.

A rhesus monkey eating ice cream in India.

The presence of the virus in the monkeys' feces and saliva presents issues for park workers and visitors, who could be endangered if bitten or scratched. The researchers who discovered the alarming news contacted the state's wildlife agency about the potential risk.

"When it does occur, it can result in severe brain damage or death if the patient is not treated immediately", said a spokesperson for the CDC. Symptoms typically appear within one month of exposure to the disease and include flu-like symptoms, like aches, pains, chills and fever.

Wild Monkeys are spreading Herpes to people as found in a recent study on Monkeys.

The CDC said there is always concern about the threat that diseases like herpes B virus pose to people, especially in settings where there is frequent interaction between animals and humans where scratches or bites can occur.

Now, local officials are trying to find a solution to the problem.

Feral rhesus macaque monkeys at a Florida state park carry a herpes virus risky to humans.

Up to 30 percent of the wild monkeys living in the park may be shedding the virus through poop, fluids and other excrements. At this point, population control may be more realistic than eradicating the monkeys. He also wants to understand why no tourist has contracted the virus yet.

Wiley said the researchers are interested in seeing the virulency of the pathogens. "It will be important to figure out whether underreporting, low quantities, or low transmissibility would explain why infections in tourists have not been reported".

The manager of the park's glass-bottom boat operation released the monkeys to an island in the Silver River, not knowing the monkeys can swim. But rhesus macaques, it turns out, are excellent swimmers and soon made it to surrounding forests. Although state officials have not specified exactly how the monkeys would be removed, they have indicated a willingness to fully remove the invasive macaques, creatures native to Asia which have settled in Ocala, Sarasota, and Tallahassee.

Samantha Wisely, a University of Florida disease ecologist and one of the study's authors, said whether the monkeys pose a significant public health threat is still unknown.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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