Blood drawn on the now captured famous monkey shows that he is positive for the herpes B virus, according to a WTSP.com report Nov. 2.
For nearly three years, an elusive rhesus macaque known as the “Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay” roamed Pinellas County, until Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials captured it last week.
Veterinarian, Don Woodman told the Tampa Bay Times that the examination of Cornelius (named after the Planet of the Apes character) shows he is healthy, but carries herpes B, a common virus in rhesus macaques.
The virus is not life-threatening for the monkey, but may cause “relatively mild lesions,” Woodman said.
Prior to his capture Oct. 25, Cornelius did bite St. Petersburg area woman, 60-year-old Elizabeth Fowler. Fowler was treated for both rabies and herpes before the monkey’s test results and has tested negative to the serious viral infection.
Herpes B is related to the herpes simplex virus that is seen frequently in humans. It is also called monkey B virus and simian herpes.
The virus is commonly found among macaque monkeys, including rhesus macaques, pig-tailed macaques, and cynomolgus monkeys, and they appear to be natural hosts for the herpes B virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although the infection is extremely rare in humans, when it does occur, the infection can result in severe neurologic impairment or fatal encephalomyelitis if the patient was not treated soon after exposure.
Herpes B typically has an incubation time of one month in humans; however, the disease can manifest itself much earlier.
Symptoms include fever, headache, and vesicular (blisters) skin lesions at the site of exposure.
If the virus spreads to the central nervous system, the outcome is usually grave. Respiratory failure associated with ascending paralysis is the most common cause of death.
According to a National Institute of Health Herpes B Fact Sheet, as of 2002, there have been 22 reported cases, 20 infected individuals developed encephalitis and 15 of these patients died as a result of their infection.
Cornelius is so well known that a Facebook page, Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay has nearly 88,000 “likes”.
Fortunately, for Cornelius, Dr. Woodman told the Tampa Bay Times although he is positive for herpes B, “I don’t see that this creates a need to euthanize him.”
For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page
To receive email updates of the latest infectious disease news and information, click the “subscribe” button at the top of the story