Evolution had yet again made an advance everyone probably wishes had never happened.
The original pair of monkeys was brought over to an island on the Silver River in the 1930s after the popularity of Tarzan movies. Now the island is populated with more than 1,000 monkeys.
Many of these monkeys are carriers of the Herpes B virus, which is not uncommon in the species. While not harmful to the primates, the virus can be deadly for humans.
The threat was minimal when the monkeys were secluded on the island. However, they have learned how to swim migrated near Jacksonville.
Wildlife experts captured 700 and tested them for the Herpes B. Most of them came back positive for the virus. Wildlife officials have declared them a public health hazard because of the infection according to the New York Post.
Tour operator Captain Tom O’Lenick defended the presence of the monkeys despite the deadly infection they could spread through direct contact with humans.
“Everybody who comes on the river for a tour wants to see the monkeys,” he said according to the report.
This news comes scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute announced a vaccine for an HIV-like infection in monkeys known as SIVmac239 according to CBS News.
The vaccine cured some monkeys but not others according to the report.
The vaccine could be a step to helping to cure HIV in humans, but more studies are needed before any tests can be done.