Monkeys in Florida Threatening to Spread Fatal Virus

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

Herpes B is relatively common - and asymptomatic - among macaques and other animals.

Roaming monkeys in Florida are being removed by the state's wildlife managers because of the growing fear that they are excreting a virus that can be risky to humans.

Eason would not elaborate on what specific management tactics the state may employ, but a spokeswoman said the commission supports ridding the state of the invasive creatures.

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. Since 1932, 50 individuals have contracted it and 21 of these cases have been fatal, according to the CDC.

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"Additionally, macaques can negatively impact Florida native wildlife and pose potential risks to agriculture and recreation".

"When it does occur, it can result in severe brain damage or death if the patient is not treated immediately", the CDC noted. A study released Wednesday (10 January) claims that their body fluids, including saliva and faeces, contain a deadly virus that is risky to man, reports the AP. Macaques have released to the Sunshine State's Silver Springs State Park as a tourist attraction almost 100 decades back. They have been spotted in trees in the Ocala, Sarasota and Tallahassee areas, The Guardian reports. Biologist David Civitello of Emory University told the AP that more research needs to be conducted, particularly to find out how much of the virus is present in the monkeys' excrement.

"It is interesting to see oral shedding at all", Civitello said in an email after reviewing the paper. Blood tests showed the monkey carried herpes B. However, a woman who had been bitten by the monkey tested negative for the virus. A man named Colonel Tooey, who maned a glass-bottom boat, released a few of the animals on an island in the Silver River. A rhesus monkey on the loose in Pinellas County for more than two years was caught in October 2012. 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. The population boomed to more than 1,000 and state officials worked to capture the animals as they were deemed a public health hazard.

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

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