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Killer herpes from Florida monkeys could pass to humans, scientists warn

14 January 2018, 02:41 | Devin Moran

Monkeys infected with the herpes B virus may be symptom-free but in people the virus can be fatal. Credit Shutterstock

Don't Touch the Monkeys! Florida Macaques Carry Virus Lethal to Humans

Roaming monkeys in Florida are being removed by the state's wildlife managers because of the growing fear that they are excreting a virus that can be unsafe to humans.

The data reveals that a growing population of rhesus macaques in Silver Springs state park could be carrying herpes B in their saliva, as opposed to simply carrying the virus, which is common in the species.

The researchers estimate that up to 30% of the scores of Florida's feral macaques could be active carriers of herpes B, and in an environment where frequent interaction between animals and humans occur, there is high potential for scratches and bites. However, the researchers say the issue has not been thoroughly studied.

Wiley also said there has yet to be a documented case of herpes B in humans from a wild monkey encounter anywhere in the world. The report about the same also consists that there is a need to remove these monkey from the reach of people, which can be a hard task to do. "This can be done in a variety of ways", Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson told the Associated Press. While scientists work to uncover whether the virus is transmissible to humans, policymakers are making plans to control the invasive species.

"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.

Now almost 30% of the monkeys roaming the park are excreting the herpes B virus through saliva and other body fluids.

As a effect, the state's Fish and Wildlife Commission plans to rid the park of the roaming wild primates, which are native to South and Central Asia.




As many as 30 percent of the feral monkeys that are living in Florida are said to be infected with the risky herpes strain.

She says even though the rhesus macaque monkeys can look friendly and be playful at times, they can be deadly from just one simple bite or scratch.

The creatures draw nature lovers.

The rhesus macaque is native to Asia, but were brought to Florida in the 1930s in an attempt to boost tourism during the height of the popularity of Tarzan movies. In 2015, about 175 macaques were living in Silver Springs State Park.

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.

While there are no official statistics on monkey attacks on humans in the park, a state-sponsored study in the 1990s found 31 monkey-human incidents, with 23 resulting in human injury between 1977 and 1984.



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