Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Florida monkeys could pass killer herpes to people

Florida monkeys could pass killer herpes to people

It indicates that they should be removed from the wildlife as they are excreting a virus that is contagious to the human beings.

A new study by University of Florida researchers is giving state wildlife officials a reason to consider removing the roaming monkeys of Silver Springs State Park in Marion County. She said the issue is one her team wants to continue to study on a genomic basis.

"Without management action, the presence and continued expansion of non-native rhesus macaques in Florida can result in serious human health and safety risks including human injury and transmission of disease", Thomas Eason, assistant executive director of the commission, said in a statement.

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.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission didn't go into details on plans. Blood samples from 317 macaques revealed that 84 monkeys carried the virus and that the odds of a monkey being infected increased with age. The monkeys also have roamed far outside the park: Dozens were photographed recently swarming a deer feeder outside a home in Ocala. The monkeys have since been spotted in other areas outside the park, along the Ocklawaha River.

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"When it does occur, it can result in severe brain damage or death if the patient is not treated immediately", the CDC noted.

As many as 30 percent of the feral monkeys that are living in Florida are said to be infected with the risky herpes strain. At this point, population control may be more realistic than eradicating the monkeys.

Wiley said the researchers are interested in seeing the virulency of the pathogens. "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. Humans feeding the monkeys is a common activity along the Silver River. "Monkey, monkey, monkey!" he cried.

The rhesus macaques are an invasive species native to Southeast Asia.

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). They draw people to the state's parks and have become notorious for their interactions with humans.


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