In Florida’s Silver River State Park, just south of Gainesville, a colony of Rhesus monkeys has been declared a public health hazard after testing positive for the Herpes B virus.
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The Rhesus monkeys, which aren’t native to Florida, were brought in the 1930s for a Tarzan-themed exhibit started on a Silver River island when a slew of Tarzan movies made them all the rage. Colonel Tooey, who started the exhibit, originally brought three pairs of Rhesus monkeys.
The population is now more than 1,000, and over half are infected with the Herpes B virus.
State officials have caught more than 700 of the monkeys in the past decade — most of which tested positive for the herpes-B virus.
Wildlife officials now consider the monkeys a public health hazard.
Originally the monkeys were marooned on the island, but they quickly learned to swim.
There have been sightings of them hundreds of miles away from Silver River State Park, even as far away as Jacksonville.
Herpes B doesn’t cause serious symptoms in these particular animals, but in humans, it can lead to neurological impairment or fatal encephalomyelitis, an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Although there have been no reports of humans infected with Herpes B, the monkeys are known to act violently and officials are warning people to keep their distance.