Roaming Florida monkeys excrete virus that can kill you, study finds

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

A research team studied several rhesus monkeys from the Silver Springs State Park, and found they carried the Herpes B virus. Since 1932, 50 people have contracted it and 21 of those cases were fatal, according to the CDC.

State wildlife officials say they are taking the problem seriously.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission didn't go into details on plans.

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. But members of the group "supports the removal of these monkeys from the environment to help reduce the threat they pose", they told the Associated Press. "This can be done in a variety of ways", another spokesperson for the commission said.

"Additionally, macaques can negatively impact Florida native wildlife and pose potential risks to agriculture and recreation". 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. The monkeys have since been spotted in other areas outside the park, along the Ocklawaha River. In the U.S., Florida officials are concerned the animals might spread herpes B in the state.

The findings suggest a public health concern, said David Civitello, an Emory University biology professor who was not involved in the study.

Now, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that about 25 percent of the monkeys carry macacine herpesvirus 1 (McHV-1), which causes only mild symptoms, if any, in monkeys but can be deadly in people.

"It is interesting to see oral shedding at all", Civitello said in the story. "It will be important to figure out whether underreporting, low quantities, or low transmissibility would explain why infections in tourists have not been reported". Instead, the monkeys also carry the virus in the saliva and other bodily fluids, which may spread the disease to humans. It is unknown how much of the virus is in the saliva and bodily fluids of the Florida monkeys, and if the virus can indeed be transferred to humans through contact.

The creatures draw nature lovers. Humans feeding the monkeys is a common activity along the Silver River. "Monkey, monkey, monkey!" he cried. A rhesus monkey on the loose in Pinellas County for more than two years was caught in October 2012.

About 175 free-roaming rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) inhabit the park, descended from a population of around a dozen animals that were released in the 1930s to promote local tourism.

But there was human error in that plan. Macaques have released to the Sunshine State's Silver Springs State Park as a tourist attraction almost 100 decades back.