Back in 1938, a local Florida cruise operator called Colonel Tooey — "Colonel" was in fact his first name, according to the New York Times — let loose about a dozen rhesus macaque monkeys onto a man-made island inside Silver Springs State Park. According to National Geographic, Colonel had big plans to build a Tarzan-themed attraction there.
But naturally, the monkeys escaped, and over the years, multiplied. The International Primate Protection League tried to keep their eye on them, and they (apparently) became a bit of a tourist attraction. Eventually, wildlife officials tried to tame the population, approving the removal of more than 1,000 of these feral macaques. As of 2018, a study in the Journal of Wildlife Management estimated that there were still around 300 of them now roving around the strip malls of suburban Florida. And some of them have migrated more than 100 miles away, as far as Jacksonville.
And about 30 percent of the remaining feral rhesus macaques also have Herpes-B, also known as "monkey herpes."
Monkey herpes is rare in humans, with only about 50 known cases (none of which were actually contracted from monkeys). But it can kill a person in just six weeks.
More and more of these rhesus macaques have been found roaming around residential neighbors in Florida. While they tend to be pretty skittish, they can also get aggressive around humans; they've even been known to organize mass raids of deer feeders in Florida. So local authorities are raising red flags, in hopes of preventing the inevitable Florida-Man-Gets-Bitten-By-Feral-Herpes-Monkey headlines. Read the rest
Brian David Gilbert is the anxiety-laden voice of a generation in Shingle Jingle, the most upbeat song ever written about suffering from shingles outbreaks. Read the rest
Anybody who has spent much time with children's literature knows that scarlet fever blinded Mary Ingalls.
But scarlet fever doesn't cause blindness.
Mary really did become blind, though, in real life as well as in the books, so what was the real culprit? A paper published this week in the journal Pediatrics speculates that it could have been viral meningoencephalitis — inflammation in the brain and in the membranes that surround the central nervous system.
There are several possible causes. In Europe and Asia, ticks can spread a virus that causes meningoencephalitis. West Nile virus can cause it, as well. So can the mumps. And so can herpes simplex type 1 — the oral herpes virus that is present in the vast majority of people.
Which means that this story not only has ties to the other Little House history pieces we've run here at Boing Boing — the meteorology of the Long Winter, and the crazy connection between the Ingalls' and a family of serial killers — it's also, possibly, another example of a heroine from children's fiction who had herpes.
The full paper, sadly, is behind a paywall. But The New York Times' Motherlode blog has a nice summary of it.
Image: Wikipedia editor Lrcg2012, via CC
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In a follow up to my feature on oral herpes, University of Texas biology professor Chris Sullivan explains how the virus that causes cold sores hides in your body.