A Pennsylvania woman who came into contact with laboratory monkeys last week after a truck carrying them crashed has said she developed unusual symptoms.
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.