Who is Michele Fallon? Pennsylvania Woman Gets Infected After Coming in Contact With Escaping Lab Monkeys From Mauritius

Michele Fallon, a Pennsylvanian woman, fell ill after she came in contact with one of the 100 lab monkeys who escaped following a truck crash in Danville. The truck carrying lab monkeys crashed with a dump truck, causing the crates carrying the primates to scatter on Route 54 near I-80 in Montour County.

As per the reports, the crates carrying cynomolgus monkeys, commonly known as crab-eating or long-tailed macaques, arrived from the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. After arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport, they were being shipped to an unnamed, CDC-approved quarantine facility.

Michele Fallon
Michele Fallon, the woman who got infected after coming in contact with lab monkeys. Twitter

Fallon Developed Symptoms After a Monkey Hissed at Her

Fallon, who was driving directly behind the truck when it crashed, offered her help in catching the escaping monkeys from the crates that fell out of the truck.

In a post made of Facebook, Fallon said that she was told that crates were cats after which she offered to help with the clean-up. It was only after she was surrounded by the monkeys that she came to know about the reality. "I thought I was just doing the right thing by helping. I had no idea it would turn out this way," Fallon said in an interview with WBRE.

Revealing that while handling one of the monkeys it "hissed" at her, Fallon said, "I was close to the monkeys. I touched the crates. I walked through their feces. I was very close. I was inside the trailer where the monkey crates were, so I called to inquire, you know, was I safe? I did have an open cut, they just want to be precautious."

Later, Fallon developed a cough, runny nose and a pink eye-like reaction in one of her eyes. Claiming that she wasn't warned by the truck driver about coming in contact with the animals, Fallon added, "If he would have told me that, then I would have been more careful." The woman received first of four rabies shots as well as some anti-viral drugs.

PETA Files Complaint, Twitter Reacts

Philly Voice reported that irked over the manner in which the incident was handled, PETA filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Feces and urine from the terrified monkeys were reportedly smeared across the highway as crates — that weren't strapped in as required —flew from the truck, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be scrambling to ensure that numerous people who were at the scene aren't in danger," PETA wrote. "The monkeys, some likely injured and all surely terrified, remained on the highway in subfreezing temperatures for hours without any protection or veterinary care as onlookers peered into the crates."

The incident also sparked a lot of reactions on the social media platform. "Reminds of the 1995 movie Outbreak where a monkey carrying a lethal virus was smuggled into the US and escaped," tweeted a user as another added, "I'm waiting for the monkey variant after that truck crash in pennsylvania."

"So the monkey crash in Pennsylvania... what is NIH funding in Mauritania? Given that the monkeys were "nonhuman primates" involved in studies, I thought it would be good to see what NIH is funding over there," read another tweet.