For those of you who don’t know, we have monkeys in Florida. Thankfully we aren’t being overrun anymore and don’t have thousands but they are still there. However, you should not touch them. Generally, people know that you should never touch wild animals but you shouldn’t touch these adorable, and seemingly tame, monkeys for another reason- they carry the deadly herpes B virus.
“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 virus lies dormant in nerves in between flare-ups, similar to cold sores in humans. Between 4 and 14 percent of the monkeys released the virus in their spit during their fall breeding season, researchers report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. And the wild monkeys’ poop turned out to be pristine — at least, as far as herpes B was concerned.”1
While we might not know a lot about herpes B in wild monkeys, according to study author Samantha Wisely, a wildlife biologist at the University of Florida, “There’s really a low risk of you getting it, but if you get it, there are going to be very high consequences.”2
Please do not be afraid if you are visiting our great state, just be smart and cautious. And don’t touch the monkeys.