Florida plagued by herpes-riddled monkeys that can kill humans

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Wildlife managers in Florida say they need to expel wandering monkeys from the state in light of another investigation distributed Wednesday that discovers a portion of the creatures are discharging an infection that can be risky to people.

As many as 30 percent of the rhesus macaque monkeys at the Silver Springs State Park in Central Florida excrete the virus through saliva and other bodily fluids, researchers found through blood sample data of 317 rhesus macaques examined in Marion County, Florida, between 2000 and 2012.

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. She said the issue is one her team wants to continue to study on a genomic basis. While it is common among macaques, the study, which was published in the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, claims the virus can be transmitted to humans and poses several health risks.

Members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to the public health concern. They have been spotted in trees in the Ocala, Sarasota and Tallahassee areas, The Guardian reports.

Rhesus macaques were first introduced to the Florida park in the 1930s in an effort to increase tourism.

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As a outcome, the state's Fish and Wildlife Commission plans to rid the park of the roaming wild primates, which are native to South and Central Asia.

The virus is rare in humans. Still, he said, while the research confirms the presence of the virus in the monkeys' bodily secretions, more work needs to be done to establish how much virus there is, and how easily transferable it is. The disease results in severe brain damage or death if not treated immediately, and of the 50 infections, 21 proved to be fatal. 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.

The presence of the virus in the monkeys' feces and saliva is of particular concern for visitors and park workers, who could be endangered if scratched or bitten, according to the study.

But there was human error in that plan.

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). The virus could pose a serious threat to public health and safety, the CDC said.