Mystery virus warning: Woman reports ‘Covid-like’ symptoms after four lab monkeys escape

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Michelle Fallon was driving right behind the vehicle when it crashed on the highway in Pennsylvania, USA. The animal crates were thrown all over the road, and four animals managed to escape. When Ms Fallon saw the crash, she reportedly got out to help both the driver and the animals in their cages. She first thought they were cats, but when she got close up one of the cages she said that a monkey hissed at her.

A day later, Ms Fallon developed a cough and pink-eye and was rushed to hospital.

She wrote on Facebook: “What a day. I had tried to help out at an accident scene, I was told there were cats in the crates.

“Then I noticed there were three in each and it was completely broken and the other half was broken.

“So I knew four got away. So I came home to bed and my aunt runs into a news crew who asked to do an interview.

“Then I find out you’re not supposed to get close to the monkeys.

“Well, I tried to pet one and I touched their crates.”

Mr Fallon continued that she is now feeling symptoms that are “like Covid symptoms”.

She then called her experience a “day from Hell”.

Infectious disease doctors have now given her the first of four rabies injections together with some anti-viral drugs.

She added on Facebook that she was monitoring for symptoms of rabies and monkey herpes virus B.

Ms Fallon has been urged to keep close tabs on her health for the next month in case she develops any infectious disease because she was so close to the lab monkeys.

Police also warned members of the public to go on a hunt for the monkeys and stressed to avoid all contact with them.

The monkeys were being transported to a laboratory in Florida when the truck smashed into a rubbish bin.

The exact location in Florida and the type of research for which the monkeys would be used wasn’t clear.

But the cynomolgus macaques, also known as crab-eating or long-tailed macaques, are often used in medical studies.

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PETA warned residents after the crash that “there is no way to ensure that monkeys are virus-free”.

It added that “records show that monkeys in laboratories in the US have been found with tuberculosis, chagas disease, cholera and MRSA”.

Since the crash, all of the escaped monkeys have been found.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission and other agencies launched a search and now, three of the escaped lab monkeys are dead after being euthanized.

While the purpose of the monkeys was not known, their DNA is similar to that of humans and have been in high demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some scientists have even called for an emergency reserve of the test subjects.

In fact, a 2015 paper by the National Center for Biotechnology Information referred to these monkeys as the most widely used primate in preclinical toxicology studies.

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