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The Escaped Monkey Crisis Is a Perfect Symbol of CDC Incompetence

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention killed three escaped lab monkeys and ordered a witness into month-long quarantine after a truck carrying 100 of the animals crashed Friday on a Pennsylvania highway.

SO WHAT

This isn’t helping the CDC’s credibility crisis.

WHAT HAPPENED

The three monkeys that escaped their trailer after the collision were recovered the next day and then euthanized as humanely as possible, the CDC said in a statement Sunday, citing unspecified health risks.

The animals were part of a shipment of 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys that arrived in New York City Friday morning from Mauritius, en route to to an unnamed CDC-approved facility used to quarantine foreign animals, the agency said.

  • The reason for the monkeys’ U.S. arrival was not confirmed, but the genus is often used in nonclinical research.
  • They have been known to transmit diseases such as monkeypox and herpes B virus, which can be deadly.

Michele Fallon of Danville, Pennsylvania, told local media she developed a cough and “pink eye” after one of the monkeys hissed at her when she stopped at the pickup truck crash on Route 54 near Interstate 80.

  • “I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping — I had no idea it would turn out this way,” Fallon said to PA Homepage.
  • Fallon, a stay-at-home mom, said she was “very close” to the monkeys, touched their crates with an open cut on her hand and “walked through their feces.”
  • Only afterward did a CDC representative who appeared on the scene advise Fallon to call a doctor and promise medical authorities would be in touch.
  • Later Friday, Fallon received a letter from the CDC saying the monkeys would be quarantined and monitored for 31 days and she should do the same.

During a visit to the emergency room Sunday, Fallon tested negative for COVID-19 and started precautionary treatments for rabies and herpes viruses, she said.

  • The truck driver, identified by Pennsylvania State Police as Cody Brooks, 31, of Keystone Heights, Florida, was uninjured in the accident, but his passenger was taken to the hospital.
  • Brooks was “in a panic” after the crash, Fallon told the Harrisburg100 news site, and he put his hand on the camera of a local Press-Enterprise reporter on the scene.

THE QUESTIONS

Harrisburg100 reported: “Many questions remain unanswered for Fallon, like what are these monkeys possibly infected with? …

  • “Why wasn’t the vehicle marked indicating it was carrying potentially bio-hazardous contents? …
  • “Why were the three monkeys that fled instantly euthanized and not captured? …
  • “What did the CDC tell her doctor to test for?”

Twitter commentators had questions of their own.

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, echoed Fallon’s concern about why the monkey transport did not have biohazard warnings “or very least have better trailer locks against contents of monkey crates spilling all across the highway? Or quarantine them before hand?”

  • It’s not everyday that [CDC] representatives fly out to rural Pennsylvania (Danville is in the middle of the state surrounded by Appalachia mountains) —  if the CDC monkeys were headed to a lab, escaped, killed instantly — we should be told what was special about the monkeys,” Feigl-Ding said.

Sharyl Attkisson, a TV reporter, said, “Why would CDC research involving monkeys be secret? CDC works for us. We pay for everything. If some or part of the research is classified, they should say so and prove it. … Otherwise, just tell us.”

Charlie Kirk, the president of Turning Point USA, asked, “What experiments was the CDC doing on Monkeys? Why were they being transported across state lines?”

THE CDC’S CREDIBILITY CRISIS

High-profile failures, politicized decision making and mixed messaging by the CDC have fueled widespread mistrust of the government’s pandemic response — and earned belated scrutiny in the mainstream media.

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