State officials want to remove its herpes-excreting wild monkeys

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MARION COUNTY, Fla. Wildlife officials say they want to remove the monkeys throughout the state that carry the potentially deadly Herpes B virus.

The monkey population is growing steadily and one UF researcher says it's better to be safe than sorry.

Samantha Wisely, a researcher at the University of Florida had been studying this non-native group of monkeys since 2015.

She says even though the rhesus macaque monkeys can look friendly and be playful at times, they can be deadly from just one simple bite or scratch.

Samantha Wisley said, "All wildlife can be dangerous and you really don't want to provoke wildlife, you want to keep a safe distance from them."

There are more than 200 rhesus macaque monkeys throughout Silver Springs State Park in Marion County since there first arrival to the area since the mid 1930's for a movie shoot.

And crews had to shut down parts of the park in 2017 due to the group acting aggressively.

State wildlife officials say they're taking this problem seriously, after a report from the centers for disease control.

The report cites that worldwide, of the 50 that were bitten or scratched by one of these herpes-infected monkeys, 21 of them died from the virus.

Now none of those cases were in our area, but the report goes on to say,

"Without management action, the presence and continued expansion of non-native rhesus macaques in Florida can result in serious human health and safety risks including human injury and transmission of disease."

Samantha Wisely said, "Once you become infected with the virus, you carry it forever.”

State officials would not go into detail about their plan for removing the monkeys going forward.

But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission urges people that come in contact with them to keep a safe distance.