Monkeys in Florida Threatening to Spread Fatal Virus

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Blood samples from 317 macaques revealed that 84 monkeys carried the virus and that the odds of a monkey being infected increased with age.

Non-native rhesus macaques in Florida's Silver Springs State Park have tested positive for herpes B, a potentially fatal disease that is spread through bodily fluids and may be transmissible to humans.

Wiley also said there has yet to be a documented case of herpes B in humans from a wild monkey encounter anywhere in the world. Yet the researchers have not scrutinized this issue in depth.

A study published on Wednesday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal fromthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prompted researchers from the universities of Florida and Washington to warn Florida's wildlife agency that certain monkeys could be considered a public health concern.

State wildlife officials reiterated that they have their prime concern over this issue.

"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". 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.

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

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. The monkeys have since been spotted in other areas outside the park, along the Ocklawaha River.

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

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

"It is interesting to see oral shedding at all", Civitello said in an email after reviewing the paper. 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. 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. 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.

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