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Worried locals and tourists in Thailand have stopped visiting wild monkeys amid fears they could catch MONKEYPOX.
The creatures are the main attraction in towns like Lopburi where thousands live in an ancient Buddhist temple and visitors feed them sugary treats while posing for pictures.
Despite swathes of holidaymakers returning to the country as travel restrictions ease, day trips and tours to the famous destinations have reportedly been cancelled en masse.
Residents said that the monkeys are no going hungry. They said fewer tourists have been seen around the areas, with wild monkeys left starving and forced to travel further afield across the city to look for food.
Worried shopkeeper Sutip Tantiwong said: 'There are normally Thai and foreign tourists coming to the province to feed the monkeys but lately it has been very quiet.
'There were under 30 tourists that visited today, which is unusual for such a popular site. None of them came to buy food to feed the monkeys. We believe it is because people are scared about catching monkeypox.
'The covid situation had just improved and now this. We don't think it can be transmitted from monkeys to humans. All we know is that there is an outbreak in the west.'
The shopkeeper said that he has never caught the monkeypox virus - or any others - despite spending time every day surrounded by wild monkeys.
She added: 'The monkeys live in the city here and they have not been in the wild. I believe there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
'We are not afraid of catching the virus but we will not neglect cleanliness. We will also be careful just as we were with Covid-19.'
Two years ago tourism made up an estimated 21 per cent of Thailand's GDP, generating 1.8 trillion baht in revenue which had drastically declined when the pandemic started.
Economists have warned that it could still be another five years before the country's tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.
The name 'monkeypox' was given to the virus because the first documented cases were seen in monkeys being used for medical research in the 1950s. Since then, monkeys are not one of the major carriers of the disease and it is often spread through human contact and close contact with infected animals.
Monkeypox symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion.
There have been no confirmed cases of monkeypox in Thailand.
( Original Title: Tourists stop visiting wild monkeys amid fears they will catch MONKEYPOX in Thailand (file video) )
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