There are more than 200 rhesus macaque monkeys throughout Silver Springs State Park in Marion County since there first arrival to the area since the mid 1930's for a movie shoot. If the researchers only analyzed the adults, infections became much more common: 75 percent of the older monkeys they tested carried the virus. Fatal cases of the virus have only been reported in laboratory settings where humans interact with the monkeys.
The rhesus macaques are an invasive species native to Southeast Asia.
Though at least 25 percent of the population carries the virus - which causes mild disease in macaques, but can be deadly to humans - fewer were actually infectious.
The manager of the park's glass-bottom boat operation released the monkeys to an island in the Silver River, not knowing the monkeys can swim. - Wildlife managers in Florida say they want to remove roaming monkeys from the state in light of a new study published Wednesday that finds some of the animals are excreting a virus that can be unsafe to humans. She said the issue is one her team wants to continue to study on a genomic basis.
"It is interesting to see oral shedding at all", Civitello said in an email after reviewing the paper. The study says stress activates the virus in the animals, and researchers only found evidence of viral "shedding" in samples collected during the fall breeding season - a stressful time of year for male monkeys.
Thomas Eason, assistant executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a statement that without the organization the specter of sustainable and extended enlargement of non-resident rhesus macaques in Florida can lead to consequential human health and safety probability involving human damage or transferal of disease.
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The findings, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, prompted the researchers from the universities of Florida and Washington to warn Florida's wildlife agency that the infected monkeys should be considered a public health concern.
No word on when FWC will begin discussing how deal with the monkeys.
Monkeys living in Silver Springs made headlines a year ago, when they chased and hissed at a family visiting the popular public park. They like to roam outside parks and have even been spotted in cities.
Now almost 30% of the monkeys roaming the park are excreting the herpes B virus through saliva and other body fluids.
More than two dozen monkeys eventually appeared in trees on the riverbank.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.