Odds & Ends

Odds & Ends

Joshua Lee
4 min read
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Dateline: Florida

uthorities are warning the public not to touch wild monkeys in Florida, because they carry a strain of herpes that can be fatal to humans. Health officials say a quarter of the feral rhesus macaque population—introduced to the state’s ecosystem in the early 20th century—carry herpes B, a strain of the virus that can cause a monkey mild irritation but can kill a human. Of the monkeys infected, only some are infectious. According to researchers studying the disease, the virus lies dormant between flareups, and only between 4 and 14 percent of the animals can spread the virus through their saliva during the fall breeding season. To be infected, a human would have to come in direct contact with a feral monkey. Doctors are therefore calling the disease “low-risk” but “high-consequence.” A dozen rhesus macaques were released in Florida’s Silver Springs State Park between 1930 and 1950 to attract tourists. In 2013, all official attempts to curb the population were halted by media attention and public outcry.

Dateline: South Africa

Some residents of a rural community in Eastern Cape are reportedly accusing a deceased woman of witchcraft after her dead body
“gave birth” inside a coffin. According to the woman’s mother, Nomveliso Nomasonto Mdoyi‚ herself a mother of five in Mthayisi village near Mbizana‚ was nine months pregnant when she died suddenly of unknown causes. After her death, the woman’s body remained in a coffin for 10 days, waiting for her funeral. On the day before the service was to be held, funeral parlor staff were reportedly shocked to discover a stillborn infant lying in the coffin with her. The staff claimed to have been too traumatized to note the infant’s sex. Lindokuhle Funeral owner Fundile Makalana told reporters that parts of the woman’s body had bloated to almost double the size of a normal body, and a special casket had to be designed to hold her. Neighbors allegedly encouraged family members to burn the bodies of both mother and child out of fear of witchcraft, but the family went on with a funeral and both were buried together in the same coffin. Members of the family have expressed an interest in investigating the incident further. According to unnamed medical specialists interviewed by The Daily Dispatch, it’s possible for a fetus to be expelled from a mother’s body because of the contraction and relaxation of muscles during death or due to physical changes caused by bacteria.

Dateline: Turkey

Garbage collectors in Ankara have opened a public library
using only books that have been thrown away by the city’s residents. Sanitation workers in Turkey’s capitol had been gathering discarded books for months when they opened a library for employees and their families to peruse. Word about the collection began to spread around the community, and the sanitation department along with members of the local government decided to open the library to the public last September. The collection is kept in a previously vacant brick factory at the sanitation department’s headquarters. It grew so large that some of the books have been given on loan to local schools. The library currently holds over 6,000 books that were either discarded or donated by local residents. The selection includes literature, nonfiction, children’s books, comics and scientific research. Volumes in English and French are also available. Books can be borrowed for two weeks at a time. A lounge area stocked with chess boards and seating is available for visitors.

Dateline: Japan

A train in Japan
barks like a dog to scare animals off the tracks. Transportation officials in Tokyo have fitted a train with speakers that play the sounds of deer snorting and dogs barking to prevent collisions with animals. Researchers from the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) say 3-second recordings of deer snorts will attract the attention of any deer who have wandered onto the tracks and 20 seconds of barking dogs will frighten them and cause them to flee. Authorities claim the system has already halved the number of deer sightings on the railway lines. If proven effective, permanent speakers could be installed at areas where deer traffic is highest. Accidents caused by wandering deer are a serious issue in Japan, where the transport ministry says there were a record 613 cases of trains striking deer and other wild animals in 2016, each resulting in train delays of 30 minutes or more. The animals are attracted to the rails because the wheels against the tracks cause iron filings to collect. The deer lick these filings to fulfill their dietary needs for iron. Deer crossings “manned” by ultrasonic waves that deflect deer at certain times are also being considered as a strategy to lower the number of collision incidents.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.

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