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Cops, CDC warn lab monkeys lost and recovered in PA may carry disease

Monkey B virus (Chris huh/WikiCommons)
January 25, 2022

After a truck carrying 100 lab monkeys crashed on Saturday allowing some of the primates to escape, a woman who came into contact with one of the monkeys has fallen ill. The Centers for Disease Control and law enforcement warned the primates could be carrying disease.

According to Fox 8, a truck was hauling the African monkeys to a lab in Missouri when it struck a dump truck on the side of the interstate in Pennsylvania. Michele Fallon said she pulled her own vehicle over to help those impacted by the accident.

“I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping — I had no idea it would turn out this way,” Fallon said. “He just asked if his trailer was okay. He never said, ‘if you do come near a crate do not touch it,’ if he would have told me that, I would have been more careful.”

Officials warned the public not to go near the monkeys that had escape because they could be carrying disease.

The warning came too late for Fallon.  

“I was close to the monkeys, I touched the crates, I walked through their feces so I was very close. So I called to inquire, you know, was I safe?” said Fallon.

After the monkeys were recovered, the CDC told Fallon that she should take precautious because of how close she was to the animals. The center said the monkeys are known to spread herpes virus B through saliva, feces and urine.

Fallon has since developed pink eye-like symptoms and received her first dose of a rabies vaccine, as well as anti-viral medication.

“Because the monkey did hiss at me and there were feces around, and I did have an open cut, they just want to be precautious,” Fallon said.

USA Today reported that the type of research for which the monkey were to be used was unclear, but the outlet said the primates are usually used in medical research.  

Before locating the missing monkeys, Pennsylvania state troopers tweeted that the public should steer clear of the wild animals.  

“Crash Update: There is still one monkey unaccounted for, but we are asking that no one attempt to look for or capture the animal. Anyone who sees or locates the monkey is asked not to approach, attempt to catch, or come in contact with the monkey. Please call 911 immediately,” the troopers tweeted.

Trooper Lauren Lesher previously commented that the warning was “due to it not being a domesticated animal and them being in an unknown territory. It is hard to say how they would react to a human approaching them.”