VALLEY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WBRE/WYOU) — A woman who came into close contact with an escaped monkey on the side of an interstate in Pennsylvania said she developed pink eye-like symptoms and is now on preventative medication.
A truck hauling 100 macaque monkeys from Africa was headed to a lab in Missouri when it collided with a dump truck Friday at Route 54 and Interstate 80 in Valley Township.
Michele Fallon, of Danville, said she pulled over to help the driver.
“I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping — I had no idea it would turn out this way,” said Fallon. “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.”
That’s when she came face-to-face with an agitated monkey, which hissed in her face.
Three monkeys in all escaped during the ordeal. 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, which have since been accounted for, were not quarantined and monitored, the CDC told Fallon she needed to take precautions because she was in close contact.
According to the CDC, the 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.
She just received her first dose of rabies vaccine and a round of anti-viral medication.
“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 today urging the United States to stop importing monkeys for experiments.