Penn. woman fears rabies after handling monkeys after crash

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Penn. woman fears rabies after handling monkeys after crash

A Pennsylvania woman has been prescribed medication over health fears after she came face-to-face with several hissing lab monkeys that escaped from a truck crash.

Michele Fallon jumped out from her car to help when she saw a pickup, which was carrying 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys, collide with a dump truck on a state highway just outside Danville on Friday.

“I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping,” Fallon told local TV station WBRE.

But as she started looking at the dozens of crates that tumbled out of the truck, she encountered one of the agitated monkeys.

She recalled another motorist saying he thought he saw a cat run across the road just as she peeked into one of the crates and saw the monkey staring back at her.

Fallon later became alarmed when officials warned the public not to go near or approach four monkeys that escaped because they could transmit diseases. She contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which told her to take immediate precautions.

Michelle Fallon (right) witnessed the accident and immediately tried to help both drivers who were hauling animals.
Michelle Fallon (right) witnessed the accident and immediately tried to help both drivers who were hauling animals.
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Michelle Fallon said that she now fears she was infected with rabies due to an open cut that was exposed to the monkeys.
Michelle Fallon said that she now fears she was infected with rabies due to an open cut that was exposed to the monkeys.
WNEP

“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?” Fallon said.

Fallon opted to go to the hospital because she had an open cut on her hand and started developing pink eye symptoms, which she feared may have been linked to the monkeys.

She was given an initial dose of the rabies vaccine and has to take anti-viral medication for the next two weeks.

The monkeys had just arrived from Africa and were on their way to a secure CDC-approved facility when the crash occurred.
The monkeys had just arrived from Africa and were on their way to a secure CDC-approved facility when the crash occurred.
Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via A
Game Commission Officers pull up as Pennsylvania State Troopers prepare to look for several monkeys which escaped from their crates.
Game Commission Officers pull up as Pennsylvania State Troopers prepare to look for several monkeys which escaped from their crates.
Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP
A Pennsylvania women fears she may have contracted rabies after she exposed an open wound unknowingly to a crate of 100 monkeys.
A Pennsylvania women fears she may have contracted rabies after she exposed an open wound unknowingly to a crate of 100 monkeys.
Pennsylvania State Police Depart

“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.

When she decided to stop and help, Fallon said the driver never warned her about the dozens of monkeys he was hauling.  

“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,” Fallon said.

According to the CDC, three of the monkey were euthanized, but did not give a reason.
According to the CDC, three of the monkey were euthanized, but did not give a reason.
Pennsylvania State Police
Crates holding live monkeys are collected next to the trailer they were being transported in along state Route 54 on January 21, 2022.
Crates holding live monkeys are collected next to the trailer they were being transported in along state Route 54 on January 21, 2022.
(Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP

The lab monkeys had just arrived from Africa were en route to a CDC-approved quarantine facility in Florida at the time of the crash.

All 100 of the monkeys were accounted for by Saturday afternoon — and three had been euthanized for undisclosed reasons, a CDC spokesperson said.

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