Wild monkeys infected with herpes virus may double in Florida

File photo of a Rhesus Macaque. (Photo: Wikimedia/Binish Roobas)
JASON DEAREN
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ON THE SILVER RIVER, Fla. (AP) — Wild monkeys infected with a virus dangerous to humans are roaming Florida.

Some of the wild rhesus macaques in Silver Springs State Park not only carry the herpes B virus, but have it in their saliva and other bodily fluids. This poses a potential risk of spreading the disease to any humans who may be bitten or scratched.

And the population of monkeys could double in the next few years, WFTV reported.

Human cases of the virus have been rare, with about 50 documented worldwide, and there have been no known transmissions of it to people from wild rhesus macaques in Florida or elsewhere.

State wildlife officials say they support removing the invasive monkeys from the environment, though they aren't elaborating on how they would do it.

“People should never approach these animals,” said University of Florida professor Steve Johnson, who was part of a team that spent years studying the monkeys. “People shouldn’t feed them."

No human deaths have been reported from contracting the virus from the free-ranging macaques, according to the CDC.

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