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• There is no evidence that the lab monkeys from a January traffic accident in Pennsylvania were infected with monkeypox, or that they spread it to humans.
A Facebook meme stitches together several news events involving monkeys to come up with one unfounded theory about monkeypox.
The May 21 post suggests that a January traffic accident involving lab monkeys was responsible for spreading monkeypox to humans.
The meme shows three news headlines: "Don’t approach lab monkey missing after Pennsylvania crash, people told," dated Jan. 22; "Woman who helped monkeys in Pennsylvania crash experiencing health issues: report," dated Jan. 25; and "CDC monitors 6 people in US for possible rare monkeypox, says public ‘should not be concerned,’" dated May 19. The caption says, "Hey, I've seen this one before," and includes emojis of monkeys pantomiming "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil."
The post 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.)
There is no evidence that the January traffic accident involving cynomolgus monkeys, or long-tailed macaques, is linked to the current monkeypox outbreak. Officials never said the monkeys were infected with monkeypox, and the woman who was exposed to the monkeys exhibited minor symptoms that did not include a telltale painful skin rash associated with monkeypox.
Further, the crash involving the monkeys occurred Jan. 21, and the incubation period for monkeypox is typically no longer than 21 days, according to the WHO. The current monkeypox outbreak began in mid-May and so far is concentrated in Europe.
In January, a truck towing a trailer of 100 monkeys — en route to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sanctioned quarantine facility in Florida — collided with a dump truck on a highway in Pennsylvania. Back then, debunked social media claims said the CDC staged the event as a cover story for releasing the next bioweapon.
At the crash site, a woman named Michele Fallon was exposed to the monkeys, and she exhibited minor symptoms afterward, such as a cough, runny nose and something like pink eye. In an interview published nearly three weeks after the crash, Fallon expressed irritation that the CDC was not giving her the information she sought about the monkeys’ health, but she did not mention any symptoms that matched a monkeypox diagnosis.
Three of the monkeys were euthanized in January after the CDC conducted a public health risk assessment, PennLive reported. The agency did not provide details about why they were euthanized. The 97 other monkeys were quarantined and monitored for disease, the New York Times reported.
On Feb. 1, more than 10 days after the crash, state and federal health officials said no other reports of illness had been reported, according to the New York Times.
An infectious disease specialist told the New York Times that monkeypox and other serious diseases are rare in cynomolgus macaques.
A Facebook post suggests that a January traffic accident involving lab monkeys was responsible for spreading monkeypox to humans.
There is no evidence that the lab monkeys were infected with monkeypox or that they spread it to humans. The woman who came into contact with the monkeys had minor symptoms and did not have the characteristic skin rash associated with monkeypox.
The incubation period for monkeypox is typically no longer than 21 days, and the traffic crash occurred in January, while the current monkeypox outbreak began in mid-May.
We rate this claim False.
Facebook post, May 21, 2022
PennLive.com, "Three escaped monkeys recovered, euthanized after CDC ‘public health risk assessment," Jan. 25, 2022
PennLive.com, "Pa. woman exposed to lab monkeys after crash irked by lack of answers from CDC, state," Feb. 9, 2022
PolitiFact, "Monkeypox outbreak: What to know about its spread, symptoms and vaccines," May 24, 2022
PolitiFact, "No evidence to support claim that CDC staged monkey crash," Jan. 31, 2022
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