Michelle Fallon: Woman at scene of lab monkey crash in Pennsylvania falls ill sparking infection fears

Michelle Fallon witnessed a truck carrying 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys collide with a dump truck on a state highway on January 21


                            Michelle Fallon: Woman at scene of lab monkey crash in Pennsylvania falls ill sparking infection fears
Michelle Fallon witnessed a truck carrying 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys crash on a state highway on Friday (WNEP, Pennsylvania State Police Dept)

A Pennsylvania woman was prescribed rabies medication after she came face to face with a number of hissing lab monkeys that managed to escape a truck crash.

Michelle Fallon witnessed a pickup truck carrying 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys collide with a dump truck on a state highway just outside Danville on Friday, January 21. She exited her vehicle to help, but while looking at the dozens of crates that fell out of the vehicle, she had a direct confrontation with one of the agitated monkeys. Just as she peeked into one of the crates, the monkey was staring back at her and hissed. Fallon later became concerned after officials warned the public not to approach four monkeys that escaped considering they could transmit diseases. She immediately reached out to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which advised her to take precautions and medication as soon as possible.

RELATED ARTICLES

Virginia woman dies of rabies after being bitten by puppy while on a yoga holiday in India

Delaware woman dies of rabies in what is considered the state's first case since 1941

“I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping,” Fallon told local TV station WBRE. “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 she decided to visit the hospital after realizing she had an open cut on her hand and had started developing pink eye symptoms that may have been linked to her exposure to the monkeys. Doctors gave her an initial dose of the rabies vaccine and prescribed anti-viral medication for the next two weeks. “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.



 

She said when she decided to stop and help the driver, he didn't warn her about the dozens of monkeys he was transporting. “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 recalled. Following the ordeal, she took to Facebook to reveal she was monitoring her health and looking out for symptoms of rabies and monkey herpesvirus B. 

"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 it's monkeys. Then I noticed that there were three in each, with some completely broken, so I knew four had got away," Fallon wrote. "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 to meet the police at the scene to talk about exposure," she explained. "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!"



 

Doctors told Fallon to keep a close eye on her health for the next month should she develop any infectious disease as a result of her close proximity to the lab animals. The monkeys had reportedly just arrived from Africa and were on their way to a CDC-approved quarantine facility in Florida when their pickup truck crashed. A CDC spokesperson later reassured that all 100 of the monkeys were accounted for by Saturday afternoon and that three had been euthanized for undisclosed reasons.