Florida monkeys are excreting an infectious disease fatal to humans

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

Monkeys in Florida may possibly infect humans with herpes B, which is a possibly fatal virus. While there are no official statistics on monkeys attacking humans in the park, a state-sponsored study conducted in the 1990s found that there were at least 31 incidents reported resulting in human injury between 1977 and 1984.

Numerous rhesus macaque monkeys at a Florida state park carry a risky herpes virus that could potentially spread to humans through their excrement, according to a new study.

Although there have been no documented cases of macaque-to-human transmission of the herpes B virus, we still do not know enough about the potential risks.

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

The issue has actually not yet been fully studied.

Human visitors to the park are most likely to be exposed to the disease, and any contact with the monkeys' saliva, urine, or feces could lead to contraction.

As such, "this pathogen should be considered a low-incidence, high-consequence risk, and adequate public health measures should be taken", the researchers write in the paper.

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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.

"Herpes B virus infection is extremely rare in people, but when it does occur, it can result in severe brain damage or death if the patient is not treated immediately", CDC spokesman Ian Branam said in a statement.

State wildlife officials say they're taking this problem seriously, after a report from the centers for disease control.

Previous studies of the Silver Springs Park rhesus populations had identified herpes B in the animals, according to a study published in May 2016 by the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).

Removing the monkeys in Florida, however, may prove to be hard due to how widespread the population has become.

The report cites that worldwide, of the 50 that were bitten or scratched by one of these herpes-infected monkeys, 21 of them died from the virus.


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