VALLEY TOWNSHIP, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — All of the escaped monkeys from Friday night’s crash are now accounted for, but public health concerns remain.
Michele Fallon, of Danville, says she’s concerned for her health after coming into close contact with one of the monkeys on the side of the interstate.
Fallon says she never could have imagined that trying to be a good Samaritan would lead to this.
She just received her first dose of rabies vaccine and a round of anti-viral medication, after a monkey hissed in her face at the scene of the crash in Valley Township.
“I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping — I had no idea it would turn out this way,” said Fallon.
Fallon says on Friday she saw a truck hauling a trailer collide with a dump truck where Route 54 meets Interstate 80. She pulled over to help the driver.
“He just asked if his trailer was OK. 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,” she said.
That’s when Fallon came face-to-face with an agitated monkey.
The truck was hauling 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys from Africa, headed to a lab in Missouri for testing. The three monkeys that escaped have since been recovered.
But during the search, officials warned the public not to come near the monkeys because they could transmit disease.
“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?” said Fallon
Since the monkeys were not quarantined and monitored, the CDC told Fallon she needs to take precautions because she was in close contact.
According to the CDC, this species commonly spreads herpes virus B through saliva, feces or urine.
Fallon says she grew concerned because she has an open cut on her hand and developed pink-eye-like symptoms, so 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.
Fallon will be on preventative medicine for about two weeks.
The USDA is now investigating the incident after PETA filed a complaint. The animal rights organization put out a statement Tuesday, urging the United States to stop importing monkeys for experiments.