USDA to ‘examine’ treatment of lab monkeys at Pennsylvania crash site


DANVILLE – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investigating the treatment of laboratory monkeys involved in an accident on Friday near Danville.

And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that the three primates that escaped were euthanized by gunshot.

Those were the developments on Tuesday following the accident which involved a trailer carrying 100 cynomolgus macaques to a quarantine facility.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have requested by letter an investigation into the treatment of monkeys.

A USDA spokesperson would say that only the agency is aware of the letter from Alka Chandna, vice president of laboratory investigations for PETA.

However, PennLive has obtained a copy of the message to Chandna from Dr. Robert M. Gibbens, a veterinarian who serves as the USDA’s Director of Animal Welfare Operations, which states, “We will register this as a complaint and l ‘examine.’

Handling and treating monkeys before, during and after the collision may constitute violations of federal animal protection law and animal welfare regulations, Chandna wrote.

The CDC has confirmed that the three monkeys that escaped when a crate opened were shot. State police did not respond to requests for details.

The three escaped when the pickup truck pulling the trailer collided with a large dump truck on Route 54 at the Interstate 80 interchange shortly after 3 p.m. Friday.

Crates containing monkeys were strewn across the road after the front panel of the trailer broke.

The cynomolgus macaques had arrived at JFK airport in New York on Friday morning from Mauritius, an island off the coast of Africa.

They were heading to an unnamed approved quarantine facility. Imported primates must be quarantined for 30 days after arrival in the United States.

Attempts to contact Jeffrey Quebedeaux, owner of Quebedeauxs Transport, LLC, of ​​Arnaudville, Louisiana, which was transporting the primates were unsuccessful.

Those who came into contact with the primates or the crates after the accident were advised to consult their doctor.

Gambling Commission officers pull over as Pennsylvania State Troopers prepare to search for several monkeys who escaped from their crates after the trailer they were being transported in was involved in an accident on the State Route 54 and Interstate 80 near Danville, Pennsylvania on Friday, January 1. 21, 2022. (Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP)PA

Geisinger Medical Center, also near Danville, saw people who were at the crash scene, but a spokesperson said due to confidentiality rules they could not discuss any specific details .

The CDC has regulations in place to protect US residents from serious infections that can spread from monkeys to humans.

These infections include viral hemorrhagic fevers, monkeypox, gastrointestinal disease, yellow fever, simian immunodeficiency virus, and tuberculosis.

The settlement includes:

  • Workers handling crates or pallets containing animals should wear reinforced leather or elbow-length gloves, outer protective clothing, waterproof shoes or boots, respiratory protection, and face shields or goggles .
  • Those whose face may be within 5 feet of a primate should wear approved N95 disposable respirators and face shields or goggles.
  • Disposable personal protective equipment should be discarded as a biohazard.
  • Workers should not drink, eat or smoke when physically handling monkeys or their cages, crates or other materials.
  • During transport, crates containing primates must be separated by a physical barrier from people, other animals and cargo or by a spatial barrier greater than five feet.
  • Cargo compartments of land transport vehicles should be large enough to allow safe stowage of crates in such a way as to allow easy access to each monkey during transport without unloading any.
  • Monkeys and other non-human primates cannot be imported as pets under any circumstances.


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