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- There’s no evidence to support the claim that the CDC staged a crash involving lab monkeys as cover to release a bioweapon. A woman who was reported ill after encountering the animals was exposed to COVID, and told a local reporter that she wasn’t sick from the crash.
Several lab monkeys escaped and were later recovered after a truck crashed on a Pennsylvania highway on Jan. 21.
They were en route to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sanctioned quarantine facility in Florida after arriving in New York from the island nation of Mauritius that morning, prompting some speculation that the incident was staged to hide something nefarious.
"Did the CDC stage the ‘escaping monkeys’ as a cover story for releasing the next bioweapon?" one blog post asked.
It was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Certainly, it’s not every day a truck towing a trailer of 100 cynomolgus monkeys, or long-tailed macaques, collides with a dump truck on the highway. In this case, three escaped and were later found and euthanized. But there’s no credible evidence to support the claim that the CDC staged this event as cover for releasing a bioweapon, or "a new virus strain," as the blog post goes on to suggest.
The post focuses in part on Michele Fallon, who came into contact with the monkeys after the crash.
"Woman who came in contact with ‘escaping monkeys’ gets quarantined, comes down with pink eye and a cough," the post says.
News reports did say that Fallon later developed a cough, runny nose, and something like pink eye, but she later clarified to the Daily Item, a Pennsylvania newspaper, that she wasn’t sick from her monkey exposure.
She attended a party the night of the accident and later discovered that she had been exposed to COVID-19, the paper said.
"I want people to know I am not sick regardless of what they are reading that has been put out there in the media," she said.
Cynomolgus monkeys are often used for medical studies, and the New York Times reported that they were in such high demand for coronavirus vaccine research at the start of the pandemic that some scientists discussed needing to create a monkey reserve, or emergency stockpile. It’s not clear whether these monkeys were part of that effort.
Claims that the CDC staged this crash to release a bioweapon are unfounded, and we rate it False.
Blog post, Jan. 26, 2022
Pennsylvania State Police troopers tweet, Jan. 21, 2022
Independent, Woman claims she is sick after carrying hissing monkey that escaped truck in Pennsylvania crash, Jan. 26, 2022
Independent, ‘The worst day of my life’: Woman who got sick after being exposed to escaped monkeys actually has Covid, Jan. 27, 2022
The Daily Item, UPDATE Danville woman not sick from monkey exposure, Jan. 26, 2022
Smithsonian Magazine, All Animals Are Accounted for After Truck Carrying 100 Lab Monkeys Crashed in Pennsylvania, Jan. 26, 2022
The New York Times, Monkeys Escape After Truck Crashes on Pennsylvania Highway, Jan. 21, 2022
The Associated Press, All 100 lab monkeys accounted for after several escape crash, Jan. 21, 2022
Philly Voice, Woman falls ill after exposure to monkeys at Pennsylvania crash site, Jan. 25, 2022
Daily Mail, Driver who stopped to help when truck carrying 100 lab monkeys crashed in Pennsylvania and put her hand in one of the cages says she now has a cough and pink eye after one of the macaques HISSED in her face, Jan. 25, 2022
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