A zoo intruder in Tasmania has exposed themselves to “potentially fatal” herpes after breaking into a snow monkey enclosure to collect coins from a pond.
Authorities have urged the person to seek immediate medical attention for the disease, which can cause “blistering, pain, muscle aches, respiratory distress, encephalitis and neurological dysfunction”.
Tasmania‘s City of Launceston issued a press release today following the break-in at the City Park monkey enclosure on Tuesday night.
The tourist hotspot often sees visitors toss coins into the pond surrounded by the tiny primates.
Mayor Albert Van Zetten said the intruder caused damage to an electric fence and stole “coins out of the surrounding moat”.
“Unfortunately, this action has potentially exposed the intruder to the herpes B virus, which is carried by the City Park monkeys,” Van Zetten said.
“The virus is not considered a risk to the monkeys and exhibits symptoms similar to that of cold sores in humans.
“However, it is potentially fatal to humans, with more than 30 known deaths recorded worldwide … [and] only one confirmed case of human-to-human transmission.”
The 23 species of macaques traditionally inhabit ranges throughout Asia, North Africa, and Gibraltar.
Certain species have even developed so far to learn to live with humans — and have sometimes become invasive in some human-settled environments, such as the island of Mauritius and Silver Springs State Park in Florida.
Macaques can be a threat to wildlife conservation and are well known to be carrying transmittable and fatal diseases.