Don’t monkey around with the monkeys in Florida, or you might end up contracting herpes. That’s right; somehow, the expanding Rhesus monkey population of the Sunshine State has become infected with the Herpes B virus.
Rhesus moneys, which can weigh up to 40 pounds, are native to Asia and Africa.
One of the stories going around as to how the monkeys got to Florida was that, in the 1930s, a man who called himself Colonel Tooey who was a tour guide, had six pairs of them transported to Florida where he eventually let them loose on a small island close to the Silver River Wildlife Park. They were shipped to the state to be used in a Tarzan flick “Tarzan Gets a Son” that was filmed in 1939.
Whatever the truth might be behind how they got there, the initial 12 monkeys have grown into over a thousand. The Herpes B virus is carried by hundreds of them.
According to state officials, several of the 700 Rhesus monkeys they have tested over the last ten years have been discovered to be infected with the Herpes B virus.
There has been talk about possibly closing the popular park down if the monkeys are determined to be considered a health hazard to the public.
The monkeys were thought to be isolated on an island close to the park. However, over time they figured out how to swim. Since then, some have been found in several other locations throughout Florida, hundreds of miles distant from the Silver River Wildlife Park.
The majority of them, however, still call their home the center of Florida, living at the wildlife park and the Ocala area.
There have so far been no reports of “altercations” occurring between the primates and humans
The Herpes B virus is one which is carried by monkeys, and, as such, it’s rare among humans. When people do contract the virus, it can have nasty consequences, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cause: “severe neurologic impairment or fatal encephalomyelitis.”
One person who has been hired to trap the Rhesus monkeys is Scott Cheslak, who, according to a 2012 report by the Tampa Bay Times, has caught approximately 700 of them. It’s rumored that they have been used for breeding purposes, to supply laboratories with research animals.
Those who are at the most risk to contract Herpes B from the monkeys are people who come into contact with them on a daily basis. Herpes B is usually spread from the monkeys to humans through scratches, bites, or coming into contact with the bodily fluids of infected primates.
If any of these things have happened to you, and you wonder if you might have contracted Herpes B, some of the symptoms are a feeling of pain or numbness where you have been scratched or bitten; fever; itching and small blisters; headaches lasting longer than a day; and muscle coordination difficulties, among others.
Written by: Douglas Cobb