The article “Florida is trying to get rid of dangerous, virus-excreting wild monkeys” by Associated Press is about a species of primate that is threatening the state’s population.
The rhesus macaques was first brought to Florida from Asia in the early 1930’s. They were intended as a tourist attraction, due to the popularity of the Tarzan movies, so they were placed on an island in the Silver River. However, the people in charge did not know that the monkeys could swim… and the rest is history. These primates are one of Florida’s many nonnative species, and they haven’t been much of a problem until now.
A new study published Wednesday shows that the monkeys carry a harmful disease, herpes B, in their urine, saliva, and “other bodily fluids.” It was already known that the macaques carried this virus, but now scientists are worried that the virus can be transmitted to humans through bites and excrement. There have only been 50 documented cases of herpes B around the world, and no evidence suggesting that a human could ever contract the disease from a wild rhesus macaques, but researchers say that the topic has not been studied enough to be sure.
Of the 50 people to catch the virus from macaques bites and scratches (in a laboratory, as I said, there are no cases of a human ever contracting the virus from a wild macaques), it was only fatal to 21. But researchers now say that up to 30% of the macaques population in Florida could be excreting the disease, more than enough to pose a threat. Officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commision (FFWCC) say that they are taking this problem seriously, and a spokeswoman said in an email that the Commision supports getting rid of the monkeys. This issue is important to me because I care about wildlife everywhere, especially in Florida, with all of its diverse marsh ecosystems. It is extremely important that people are reporting on this topic so that people traveling to Florida know the precautions to take.
This relates to science because the article deals with invasive species and their effects. I hope that in the future, people will be able to somehow stop the rhesus macaques from carrying the virus, so people can enjoy looking at them without fear of catching a deadly disease.