Florida Monkeys May Infect Humans With Possibly Fatal Herpes Virus

Florida Monkeys May Infect Humans With Possibly Fatal Herpes Virus

No one keeps a thorough record of encounters between the monkeys and humans at Silver Springs State Park, said Samantha Wiley, a University of Florida researcher who is a co-author of the study.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission did not expand on what particular administration strategies the state may utilize, however a rep said the commission underpins freeing the condition of the obtrusive animals. "This can be done in a variety of ways", another spokesperson for the commission said. A study released Wednesday (10 January) claims that their body fluids, including saliva and faeces, contain a deadly virus that is unsafe to man, reports the AP.

Human instances of the infection have been uncommon, with around 50 archived around the world, and there have been no known transmissions of it to individuals from wild rhesus macaques in Florida, reports the AP. The monkeys have since been spotted in other areas outside the park, along the Ocklawaha River.

Of the 50 cases of herpes B in humans documented worldwide, the people were infected by bites and scratches from monkeys in captivity that were carrying the disease. However, 21 one of the infected people died from the disease.

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 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. On a chilly day in November, Capt. Tom O'Lenick, who has navigated the Silver River for 35 years, hollered from his charter boat into the dense surrounding forest.

Minutes later another troop was running along the opposite riverbank.

Local folklore holds that the the interest stemmed from the movie Tarzan, but that origin story has not been verified and no rhesus macaques appear in that film.

"They didn't know monkeys could swim", O'Lenick said. Unsurprisingly, the Florida monkeys are a popular wildlife attraction, though many who see them may not be aware of the risks of close contact. They were first introduced to Silver Springs State Park in the mid-1930s, when they were intentionally released into the park to attract tourists. 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.

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

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