Reported by SARAH TAYLOR | January 25, 2022
The driver who stopped to assist when she saw a wrecked truck carrying 100 lab monkeys says that she now has conjunctivitis and a cough after one of the long-tailed macaques hissed in her face. Michelle Fallon of Danville, Pennsylvania, said that she was driving down a Pennsylvania highway on Saturday morning when she saw a truck in front of her crash and dump its cargo, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday. The cargo? One hundred lab monkeys en route to a Florida lab for testing.
Fallon told PA Homepage that she immediately pulled off the road to offer assistance to the driver. She got out of her car and walked toward the accident, believing that there were cats inside the crates.
“I was close to the monkeys, I touched the crates, I walked through their feces, so I was very close,” she said. “So, I called (a helpline) to inquire, you know, was I safe? Because the monkey did hiss at me and there was feces around, and I did have an open cut, they just want to be precautious.”
Fallon said that the day after the accident, she developed a cough and pinkeye, which drove her to the emergency room for treatment. Upon arrival, Fallon recounted her incident with the monkeys, which prompted doctors to administer a series of rabies shots and antiviral drugs out of an abundance of caution. The Daily Mail reported that Fallon added that she was also being monitored for monkey herpes virus B.
“What a day!” she said in a Facebook post obtained by the outlet. “What a day! I tried to help out at an accident and was told there were cats in the crates. So, I went over to pet them only to find out they were monkeys. Then I noticed that there was three in each, with some completely broken, so I knew four had got away.”
She continued, “I came home to go to bed, and my aunt ran into a news crew, and she found out not to get too close to the monkey. Well, I tried to pet one. I touched the crates and walked in poop. I was told meet the police at the scene to talk about exposure. … I spoke with the police and a woman from the CDC I am getting a letter and I’m very low risk for I don’t know what yet. But my symptoms are covid symptoms. Like seriously. A day from hell!”
According to the report, all monkeys — which had just arrived in the U.S. from Mauritius that same day — that were said to have escaped at the accident’s onset have been recovered. Authorities immediately issued a statement telling area residents to avoid engaging with the monkeys, which were headed to a CDC-approved quarantine facility.