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


While Florida's officials determine their course of action, people in Florida are advised to steer clear from the monkeys when they see them to completely avoid the chance of being infected with the herpes B virus.

Feral rhesus macaque monkeys in a Florida state park carry a herpes simplex virus which may be harmful to humans, as per a different study.

To date, only 50 cases of herpes B have been documented in humans in the USA since the disease was first identified in 1932, and numerous infections resulted from animal scratches or bites, according to the CDC.

The issue has actually not yet been fully studied.

According to the CDC, only 50 people have contracted the disease since 1932 and there hasn't been a single case documented from wild macaques.

"When it occurs, it can bring about serious mind harm or demise if the patient isn't dealt with quickly", a CDC rep says in an announcement.

But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission urges people that come in contact with them to keep a safe distance.

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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. They have been spotted in trees in the Sarasota and Tallahassee areas.

In humans, the virus causes a devastating brain disease that, if left untreated, is deadly about 70 percent of the time.

The monkey population is growing steadily and one UF researcher says it's better to be safe than sorry.

Thomas Eason, assistant executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a statement that without the organization the specter of sustainable and extended enlargement of non-resident rhesus macaques in Florida can lead to consequential human health and safety probability involving human damage or transferal of disease. Blood tests showed the monkey carried herpes B. However, a woman who had been bitten by the monkey tested negative for the virus. Humans feeding the monkeys is a common activity along the Silver River. A rhesus monkey on the loose in Pinellas County for more than two years was caught in October 2012.

But there was human error in that plan.

Macaques were introduced to Florida's Silver Springs State Park as a tourist attraction nearly 100 years ago.

While there are no official statistics on monkey attacks on humans in the park, a state-sponsored study in the 1990s found 31 monkey-human incidents, with 23 resulting in human injury between 1977 and 1984. In response to this public health threat, Florida state wildlife managers are proposing the removal of the macaques from their adopted habitats.