A new study published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal Wednesday says at least 25 percent of feral rhesus macaque monkeys in sunny Florida's Silver Springs State Park carry the deadly herpes B virus.
Of that percentage, researchers found that approximately four to 14 percent of the primates released the virus in their spit and other bodily fluids during the fall breeding season. And though the virus only causes mild symptoms such as cold sores, mouth ulcers and eye irritation in monkeys, it can be lethal to humans.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), herpes B manifests as a brain and spinal cord inflammation in humans. Symptoms in humans can include fever, headache, and skin lesions at the site of exposure. In observed cases, death can occur between one and three weeks after symptom onset.
As a consequence, the Sunshine State's Fish and Wildlife Commission now plans to rid the park of the roaming primates, which were introduced to the Florida park in the 1930s in an effort to promote tourism.