Woman who came into contact with escaped lab monkey showing potential signs of infection

(update) A Pennsylvania woman who came into contact with laboratory monkeys last week after a truck carrying them crashed has said she developed unusual symptoms.
Crates holding live monkeys are collected next to the trailer they were being transported in along state Route 54 at the intersection with Interstate 80 near Danville, Pa., on Jan. 21, 2022.

On her Facebook page and during media interviews, the woman, Michelle Fallon, said she developed symptoms after the accident. Fallon wrote that she sought emergency room treatment at the Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

Fallon told local media that after the crash, she believed the truck was carrying cats. However, when she approached the cages, a monkey appeared at hissed at her.

“What a day I try to help out at a accident seen was told there were cats in the crates. So I over to pet them. To find out it’s monkeys. Then I noticed that’s there 3 in each and I was completely broken the other was half broken,” Fallon wrote. “So I knew 4 got away. So come home go to bed. My aunt runs into New[s] crew was ask to do interview. Then find out not to get close to the monkey.”

She continued: “Well tried to pet one, I touch the creates and walk in poop. Then was told to met police at the scene. To talk about exposure. News crew was the[re]. I thought they were [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] so I to them. End up doing interviews. Talk to police and a lady with CDC. I’m will getting a letter. I’m very low risk for I don’t know what yet.”

Later, she wrote that she has “symptoms” that are like “Covid symptoms. Like seriously. A day from hell.” She was referring to COVID-19.

Fallon told PAHomepage that she had an open cut on her hand and also developed pink-eye-like symptoms. She went to the emergency room at Geisinger Danville

“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,” said Fallon, adding that she will be on preventative medicine for two weeks.

Fallon told WNEP-TV that she was contacted Saturday by the CDC and was told to monitor herself for any unusual symptoms. A letter from the CDC she shared with the outlet said that “the surviving monkeys will be quarantined and will be monitored for infectious diseases for at least 31 days before their release.”

And, over the weekend, activist group PETA issued a press release—with a headline that blared, “The Monkey Crash Could Release Disease”—saying Fallon “got an eyeful of monkey saliva that has caused a reaction. She’s now on antiviral drugs and medication to protect against rabies.”

However, PETA said it fears other people in the area could have been exposed.

“Feces and urine from the terrified monkeys were reportedly smeared across the highway as crates—that weren’t strapped in as required—tumbled from the truck. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be scrambling to ensure that numerous other people who were at the scene aren’t in danger,” the group said.

Pennsylvania State Police told PennLive that several monkeys escaped but were later captured. Three were euthanized, CDC officials told the outlet.

They were among about 100 cynomolgus macaques that were being transported in a trailer near Danville that became unhitched after 3 p.m. on Jan 21, officials said.

A day later, on Jan. 22, police had urged people not to look for or capture a monkey in the area. Troopers wrote on Twitter:  “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.”

Trooper Lauren Lesher told the Associated Press that officials were concerned “due to it not being a domesticated animal and them being in an unknown territory,” and “it is hard to say how they would react to a human approaching them.”

Troopers told PennLive that the truck carrying the monkeys had collided with a dump truck on Route 54 at the Interstate 80 interchange.

By Jack Phillips of The Epoch Times

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When a truck that was carrying 100 lab monkeys crashed in Pennsylvania, the public was warned not to approach any of the missing primates, who were being transported to a quarantine facility after arriving in the country from Mauritius. However, one woman who may not have heard the warning and stopped to help has developed symptoms such as a cough and pinkeye after one of the monkeys hissed in her face.

Michelle Fallon had been driving directly behind the vehicle when the crash took place at the intersections of State Route 54 and Interstate 80 near Danville. Animal crates were thrown all over the highway, and some of them were smashed. Four of the monkeys escaped and went on the run, with one of them remaining missing well into the next day. Troopers were seen searching for the monkeys with rifles, while firefighters used thermal imaging to help locate the animals.

While the monkey was missing, state police sent out a warning saying that anyone who sees or locates the missing monkey should not approach it, come into contact with it, or attempt to catch it and should instead call 911 right away. However, the danger wasn’t immediately obvious in the moments following the accident when Fallon stopped to help.

She has now developed symptoms of pinkeye and a cough and is concerned because she was close to the monkeys, touching their crates and walking through their feces. She got out of her car to help the driver and the animals, which she at first believed were cats. When she approached one and placed her hand on the cage, the macaque hissed at her. She also had an open cut at the time.

Fallon has been given the first of four rabies injections as well as antiviral drugs and is monitoring for symptoms of rabies and monkey herpes virus B. Although monkey herpes virus B is rare, it can lead to severe brain damage and even death if it is not treated immediately. Infection can occur when a person is bitten or scratched by an infected macaque monkey or has close contact with the monkey’s nose, mouth or eyes.

She has been advised to monitor her health for the next month for any signs of infection or disease. She said: “I have anxiety, so I just know I’m going to be a nervous wreck for the next 31 days.”

First responders receive a letter advising them of potential dangers

Fallon received a letter that was written to first responders advising them of the potential dangers of contact with the primates in the accident. The letter pointed out that these animals and humans are susceptible to many of the same diseases. It advised first responders who had physical contact with a loose monkey to get medical attention immediately and notify the Pennsylvania State Department of Health. Some of the signs they were told to look out for include cough, fever, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhea.

The surviving monkeys, according to the letter, are being quarantined and monitored for infectious diseases for at least 31 days. Three of the monkeys that escaped have already been euthanized.

The location of the lab and the type of research the monkeys will be used for were not immediately clear, but cynomolgus monkeys are typically used for medical studies. The crab-eating macaques can cost as much as $10,000 and are in high demand during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to their DNA, which is highly similar to that of humans. They are known for being intelligent and social and can even use stone tools in the wild.

It remains to be seen whether any of the escaped monkeys transmitted diseases to other animals or humans while they were on the loose, but it’s scary to think how easily an accident like this could put human health at risk.

Planet Today

Disclaimer: This article only represents the author’s view. PT is not responsible for any legal risks. The material mentions COVID-19. Trust verified information from expert sources — check out answers to questions about coronavirus and vaccinations from doctors, scientists and scientific correspondents. This article may contain statements that reflect the opinion of the author. facebook twitter telegram reddit vk pinterest youtube external-link

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