Some non-native monkeys in Florida carry herpes B, a virus that can be dangerous to people, a new study says.
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Researchers found that some rhesus macaques in Silver Springs State Park have the virus in their saliva and other bodily fluids and could spread the disease, the Associated Press reported.
Up to 30 percent of Florida's wild macaques may be actively excreting the virus, according to the researchers from the universities of Florida and Washington.
Their study was published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
No transmissions of hepatitis B to people from wild rhesus macaques in Florida or elsewhere have been reported, but the virus has been deadly in 21 of the 50 people known to have contracted it from macaque bites and scratches while working with the monkeys in laboratories, according to the CDC, the AP reported.
The study authors warned Florida's wildlife agency that the infected rhesus macaques should be considered a public health concern. State wildlife officials said they're considering how to deal with the monkeys, which are native to Asia.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to rid the state of the invasive monkeys, according to a spokeswoman.
"The commission supports the removal of these monkeys from the environment to help reduce the threat they pose. This can be done in a variety of ways," Carli Segelson said in an email, the AP reported.
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