Thief exposed to 'potentially fatal herpes' after stealing from monkey enclosure

·2-min read

An unidentified intruder may have exposed themselves to a potentially fatal strain of herpes after they broke into a monkey enclosure in Tasmania.

The thief broke into the City Park monkey enclosure in Launceston on Tuesday night and not only did they cause damage to the electric fence, but they also stole coins from the surrounding moat.

Unfortunately for the intruder, the City Park monkeys have the Herpes B virus, so the intruder may have unwittingly exposed themselves.

The virus can be asymptomatically shed by the monkeys through bodily fluids and 'fomites' — that is, "any material that has come into contact with the virus, which includes the water in the enclosure," the City of Launceston said in a statement on Facebook.

A thief might have a potentially fatal strain of herpes after stealing coins from a monkey enclosure. Source: Our Tasmania
A thief might have a potentially fatal strain of herpes after stealing coins from a monkey enclosure. Source: Our Tasmania

Mayor's grim warning after break-in

Mayor Albert Van Zetten said while the virus is not considered to be a risk to the monkeys, it can be devastating for humans.

"It is potentially fatal to humans, with more than 30 known deaths recorded worldwide," he said according to the ABC, adding there has only been one case of human-to-human transmission.

Pictured at the Park gates, at City Park in Launceston, Tasmania
The robbery happened at City Park in Launceston, Tasmania. The thief also damaged the monkey enclosure fence. Source: Getty Images, file

Humans can suffer from symptoms such as blistering, pain, numbness and flu-like symptoms, respiratory distress, encephalitis and neurological dysfunction, Mr Van Zetten said.

The council is urging the intruder to seek medical attention "as a matter of urgency" and anyone with information regarding the break-in is asked to contact Tasmania Police.

City Park is sometimes known as "The Monkey Park" as the Japanese macaques are the main attraction.

"Housed in an enclosure that reflects the natural conditions, they follow a long tradition of displaying exotic animals in the park," Our Tasmania says.

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