A woman who was in contact with a lab monkey being transported by a truck that crashed in Pennsylvania says that she has developed an infection.
Michelle Fallon was behind the box truck when it crashed and launched animal crates all over the highway on Jan. 21.
Some crates, carrying test monkeys, were entirely destroyed upon impact.
Four crab-eating macaques escaped from the scene and were at large for several days.
Ultimately, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund confirmed to AP News via email that all 100 monkeys were accounted for. Three had been euthanized.
Fallon, a Danville resident, witnessed the crash and stopped to help the driver. She told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that he appeared to be disoriented.
The newspaper reported the truck took the Danville exit and then tried to get back onto the highway. Fallon said that the truck’s passenger side was hit, but a dump truck tore the trailer’s front panel and cause the crates to spill out.
Days after the incident, Fallon announced on Facebook that she believes she has caught a disease after one of the monkeys hissed in her face. She says she developed pink eye symptoms and a cough.
“I was close to the monkeys, I touched the crates, I walked through their feces so I was very close. So I called (a helpline) to inquire, you know, was I safe?” Fallon wrote.
She said she was given the first of four rabies shots as a precaution by an infectious disease doctor as well as anti-viral drugs. Her symptoms became so severe over the weekend that she sought treatment at the emergency room at Geisinger Medical Center.
Online, Fallon wrote she is watching for symptoms of rabies and monkey herpesvirus B.
“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,” Fallon wrote in her post. “But my symptoms are covid symptoms. Like seriously. A day from hell!”
The truck was traveling west on I-80 to a laboratory in Florida. The animals had arrived in the US from Mautituis that morning. The monkeys are notably social and intelligent creatures that can cost over $10,000.