Florida Has Lots of Wild Monkeys With Herpes—and That Number Could Double Soon

iStock.com/Michael Warren
iStock.com/Michael Warren

The wild monkeys in Florida may be cute, but many of them carry a strain of herpes that can be deadly to humans who get scratched or bitten by one, according to WFTV.com. More than a quarter of the rhesus macaques that live in Silver Springs State Park are infected with the herpes B virus, and the total population of monkeys is expected to double from 200 to 400 within the next three years.

Also known as the monkey B virus, herpes B is extremely rare in humans but can turn deadly if infection occurs. In humans, symptoms may include small blisters, fever, flu-like aches, chills, headache, and pain or itching at the site of the wound. Only 50 people have contracted herpes B since the virus was discovered in 1932, but 21 of those were fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Macaques, which are believed to be natural hosts for the virus, experience only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Still, the anticipated population boom concerns wildlife experts, especially as the monkeys migrate to other parts of Central Florida. The animals, which are native to Asia, were first brought to the Florida park in the 1930s as part of an attraction that has since shut down. In 2015, a monkey was spotted more than 20 miles south of the park on the roof of an elementary school.

University of Florida professor Steve Johnson tells WFTV the state has a couple of options in terms of how to proceed. It could remove the monkeys from their environment, or remove the females, sterilize them, and release them back into the wild. However, the latter option would likely be expensive and risky for those who handle the monkeys.

"It's going to be a problem … continual growth of that population is going to occur without intervention," Johnson says. Until the state reaches a decision, park visitors are advised not to touch or feed the monkeys—which is generally good advice when encountering any wild animal.

[h/t The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Therapy Puppy Provides Comfort to Grieving Families at North Carolina Funeral Home

AllenSphoto, iStock via Getty Images
AllenSphoto, iStock via Getty Images

Emotional support animals have become common sights at places like airports, and now the funeral industry is embracing their therapeutic benefits. As WGAL reports, Macon Funeral Home in North Carolina now has a Bernese mountain dog puppy to provide comfort to grieving clients.

Nine-week-old Mochi isn't a fully trained therapy dog yet, but she's already winning over visitors. Tori McKay, Macon's funeral office administrator, had dreamed of bringing a grief-support dog into the business for a decade. Shortly after her 30th birthday on January 4, she and her husband "decided that Mochi would make a wonderful addition to our family and this decade of our lives," she wrote on the funeral home's website.

McKay chose a Bernese mountain dog for the breed's affectionate personality, relaxed disposition, and successful history as an emotional support animal. Between ages 6 months to 1 year, Mochi will receive therapy dog training in Asheville. The plan is to eventually make her available to families upon request and bring her to nursing homes to meet with residents. Until then, the puppy is meeting guests in a more casual setting as she gets used to socializing with strangers.

"Stop by and meet her, she loves making new friends!" a post on the funeral home's Facebook page reads.

[h/t WGAL]

One of the World’s Most Dangerous Spiders Could Invade Homes after Australia's Recent Rainfall

Ian Waldie, Getty Images
Ian Waldie, Getty Images

While recent rainfall has been a welcome change in Australia after destructive bushfires caused a widespread crisis, it hasn’t come without an asterisk. According to the Australian Reptile Park, the wet and warm conditions have made Sydney funnel web spiders highly active—and the funnel web spider happens to be one of the most venomous arachnids on the planet.

In a video the park shared on Facebook, officials warn that the weather might cause a marked increase in the spiders' activity, as males cover territory in search of a mate. They might be found in shoes, in laundry, or in yards. Fortunately, Atrax robustus is easy to identify, with its shiny body providing a helpful visual cue to immediately begin walking in the other direction.

Male funnel webs are thought to have venom up to six times more dangerous than females and also tend to move around more, making human encounters with them more likely. Because they can’t climb smooth surfaces, funnel webs are also prone to burrowing in piled-up clothing or other hiding spaces, providing an unwelcome surprise for anyone looking to retrieve their discarded shirt or socks.

The funnel web is also aggressive, quick to attack when provoked, and packs a powerful enough bite to pierce shoes. After being bitten, pain, muscle spasms, and pulmonary edema follow. Victims should use a compression bandage and limb immobilization to compress surface tissue until they receive medical attention.

Though the species is believed to have caused 13 human deaths, there haven’t been any fatalities attributable to a funnel web bite since 1981. That’s due in large part to antivenom made from milked spiders, an advancement that saved the life of a 10-year-old boy, Matthew Mitchell, bitten by the spider in 2017. The spider was loitering in his shoe and bit him on the finger. After 12 vials of antivenom, Mitchell made a complete recovery.

The Australian Reptile Park is actually encouraging citizens to trap the spiders and bring them in to drop-off sites to aid in the antivenom production effort. They advise nudging the spider into a plastic or glass container with a spoon. Extreme caution should be exercised, but you knew that.

[h/t CNET]

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