Colony of Herpes-Infected Monkeys In Central Florida Carry Strand That Can Be Deadly To Humans

By  //  November 12, 2016

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harmless to monkeys, can be deadly to humans

Imagine picnicking in central Florida when, suddenly, you hear some leaves rattle, and, from the shade of the trees, the curious face of a rhesus macaque emerges.

Imagine picnicking in central Florida when, suddenly, you hear some leaves rattle, and, from the shade of the trees, the curious face of a rhesus macaque emerges. TAPAS BISWAS/CC BY 4.0

Imagine picnicking in central Florida when, suddenly, you hear some leaves rattle, and, from the shade of the trees, the curious face of a rhesus macaque emerges.

The macaques, which were introduced to Florida decades ago by a boat operator, have taken up residence in the state with determination, expanding rapidly because they lack natural predators.

But they are mostly benign, and this one seems pretty benign too. So, what should you do? Offer it food? Try to pet it? Or just ignore it?

You can probably guess the right answer, even if, for decades now, other humans have been guessing wrong, leading to 31 attacks from 1977-1984, according to an official report.

And while most of those injuries turned out to be minor, nowadays you might not be so lucky, as officials warn the public about a more dangerous threat: a strand of herpes carried by the rhesus macaques that is mostly harmless to them but can be deadly to humans.

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