Florida plagued by herpes-riddled monkeys that can kill humans

Wild monkeys inhabit the swamp along the Silver River in Ocala Florida

Wild monkeys inhabit the swamp along the Silver River in Ocala Florida. Michael Warren—Getty Images iStock

All infected people were infected by contact with monkeys in labs.

While Florida's officials determine their course of action, people in Florida are advised to steer clear from the monkeys when they see them to completely avoid the chance of being infected with the herpes B virus.

Non-native rhesus macaques in Florida's Silver Springs State Park have tested positive for herpes B, a potentially fatal disease that is spread through bodily fluids and may be transmissible to humans.

According to the CDC, only 50 people have contracted the disease since 1932 and there hasn't been a single case documented from wild macaques. Yet the researchers have not scrutinized this issue in depth. The researchers behind the study are warning Florida's wildlife agency to treat the monkeys as a serious health concern.

As a result, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has said it plans to remove the monkeys, which are native to South and Central Asia, from the park.

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Eason could not augment on what particular organizational strategies the state may appoint but a spokeswoman said that the enterprise assists purifying the state of the fast growing creatures.

Monkeys have also been spotted in Apopka, Fruitland Park and even in Pasco County.

But in humans, infection with herpes B can lead to severe brain damage or death, with 70 percent of untreated patients killed by complications from infection.

The findings suggest a public health concern, said David Civitello, an Emory University biology professor who was not involved in the study. At this point, population control may be more realistic than eradicating the monkeys. "It will be important to figure out whether underreporting, low quantities, or low transmissibility would explain why infections in tourists have not been reported".

Now nearly 30 percent of these reptiles drifting the park are excreting the herpes B virus during saliva and other body fluids.

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The creatures draw nature lovers. "Monkey, monkey, monkey!" he cried.

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. In 2015, about 175 macaques were living in Silver Springs State Park.

More than two dozen monkeys eventually appeared in trees on the riverbank.

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.

"We don't have any silver bullet; that's the nature of science", Wisely said.

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