Perhaps Florida’s most what-the-what invasive species is in the news again, as herpes-carrying monkeys have begun to spread their domain.

Perhaps Florida’s most what-the-what invasive species is in the news again, as herpes-carrying monkeys have begun to spread their domain.


The invasive rhesus macaque, many of which have the herpes B virus, were introduced originally to Florida at Silver Springs State Park in the 1930s. Their population has expanded to hundreds over time, and now are beginning to appear around Jacksonville, according to a report on First Coast News.


Several recent sightings in St. Johns, St. Augustine, Palatka, Welaka and Elkton mark the first time they have made it to Northeast Florida, although they have also been seen farther south in the past as far as Apopka and Tampa, First Coast News reported.


While very rare, the herpes B virus is potentially fatal to humans, and while the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has in the past stated that the non-native species should have some sort of management to reduce health and safety risks as well as threats to native wildlife, agriculture and recreation, there has not been any population control in place since 2012, First Coast News reported.


The FWC enacted a feeding ban of the monkeys in 2017. In the past, FWC tracked encounters of the burgeoning population.


Between 1977 and 1984, FWC reported 23 incidents of human injuries, but has not kept records since.


The herpes B threat exists, as in 2018 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that up to 30% of the population carry the virus, but less than 100 cases of that virus have ever been found in humans.


If a human did catch it, it can cause brain and spinal cord inflammation that can prove fatal.