MONTOUR COUNTY, Pa. – Three monkeys that escaped from a tractor-trailer bound for a laboratory following a crash Friday in Montour County were euthanized after being caught, according to multiple reports.
Pennsylvania State Police confirmed to PennLive.com that the three cynomolgus macaques, which were among 100 being transported through Montour County on Friday, were euthanized.
In a statement obtained by The Daily Item, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said the monkeys were “humanely euthanized according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines” following a “public health risk assessment” by the CDC, state police and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She did not elaborate on what prompted the decision.
The monkeys escaped after a tractor-trailer and a dump truck collided around 3 p.m. near Danville, WNEP-TV and state police reported. Officials said Saturday that the escapees were recovered following a search of a nearby wooded area. Earlier, police had urged people not to “approach, attempt to catch or come into contact with” the monkeys
Following Friday’s crash, a witness to the collision told WBRE-TV that she sought treatment at a hospital as a precaution after coming into contact with the monkeys.
“I was close to the monkeys,” Michelle Fallon told the news station, adding that one of the monkeys hissed in her face. “I touched the crates, I walked through their feces, so I was very close.”
Fallon told WBRE that she went to an emergency room after developing pink eye-like symptoms following the encounter. She officials with the CDC told her that “because the monkey did hiss at me and there were feces around, and I did have an open cut (on my hand), they just want to be precautious.”
Health officials said cynomolgus macaques often spread herpes virus B through saliva, feces or urine, WBRE reported. Fallon told the news station that she has gotten her first dose of the rabies vaccine and a round of anti-viral medication with plans to stay on preventative medicine for about two weeks. She told The Daily Item on Tuesday afternoon that the medications were given to her by a doctor at Geisinger Medical Center to protect her in case the monkeys carried any diseases.
“I want people to know I am not sick. I found out I was at a birthday party Friday night and people there had COVID-19,” she told the newspaper. “I was exposed to the monkeys and exposed to people with COVID. It was the worst day of my life.”
Geisinger Medical Center spokesperson Joe Stender declined to discuss Fallon’s case with The Daily Item due to privacy regulations, though he said the hospital was “following Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for treating anyone potentially exposed to the non-human primates involved in the recent traffic incident on (Interstate 80).”
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