VALLEY TOWNSHIP, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Questions linger concerning a central Pennsylvania crash involving a cargo trailer hauling 100 monkeys.
The crash happened Friday near Danville and we are learning more about the concerns surrounding these monkeys.
The monkeys came from Africa and were headed to a CDC-approved quarantine facility. But the big question many have: was proper oversight and safety measures taken to secure the monkeys?
The crates strewn Friday afternoon along Route 54 near Danville contained some of the 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys.
Three of the primates escaped from their crates and were later captured and put down. The others remained inside the containers.
Michele Fallon shared her experience with us about walking up to the crates thinking they contained cats.
“I was close to the monkey, I touched the crates, I walked through their feces so I was very close. I was inside that trailer where the monkey crates were,” stated Fallon.
She says she went to the hospital fearing the effects of close contact including one of the monkeys hissing at her.
“The infectious disease doctor from Geisinger had recommended that I start this valaciclovir to prevent Herpes Virus B,” explained Fallon.
Herpes Virus B, spread by cynomolgus macaque monkeys, is a rare infection according to the CDC but can lead to severe brain damage or even death if not treated immediately.
The USDA has opened an investigation into the monkey transport at the urging of PETA, according to the animal rights organization.
The USDA is investigating if all protocols were followed to safely move the monkeys from the time they arrived in the US right up until the time of the crash.
As for that crash, Pennsylvania State Police say the monkey transport driver from Florida received a written warning for colliding with a dump truck but has not been charged.
Those monkeys which are commonly used for medical research came from Africa and had landed at JFK the day of the crash.
We just heard from state police in the past hour and they say in part,
There is risk associated with the handling of any wild animal, but the risk associated with these animals was higher due to being non-native and newly imported.”Pennsylvania State Police
We also reached out to the Pittsburgh Zoo to talk about cynomolgus macaque monkeys. A spokesperson told Eyewitness News the zoo hasn’t had that species in about 30 years because of the health threat they carry.