Avoid Monkeys in Florida Because They Could Give You Killer Herpes

As many as 30 percent of feral rhesus macaque monkeys living in and outside of Florida state parks are infected with a strain of herpes that’s exceptionally dangerous to humans. Wildlife officials are now calling for the total removal of these free-roaming monkeys from the Sunshine State.

New research published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication run by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests an alarming number of these monkeys are excreting a form of herpes, called herpes B virus (or macacine herpesvirus 1 (McHV-1)), which can be dangerous to humans—even fatal.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Emory University biology professor David Civitello, who wasn’t involved in the new study, said more work needs to be done to determine how prominent this virus is among Florida’s monkeys, and how easily it can be transmitted. “It will be important to figure out whether underreporting, low quantities, or low transmissibility would explain why infections in tourists have not been reported,” he told The Guardian. He is a faculty member in the PBEE program.

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