Monkey in cage

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Woman falls ill after encountering escaped lab monkeys—sparking new pandemic fears, wild conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theorists blamed everyone from Bill Gates to Hollywood for the crash.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Jan 25, 2022   Updated on Jan 31, 2022, 1:58 pm CST

A woman has fallen ill after approaching a truck that crashed while carrying 100 lab monkeys in Pennsylvania, sparking apocalyptic fears among an already pandemic-weary populace.

The incident unfolded on Friday when Michelle Fallon witnessed the crash on State Route 54 in Danville and exited her vehicle in an attempt to render aid.

Fallon noticed numerous animal crates strewn across the highway and assumed that the truck had been transporting cats. Yet when she approached and placed her hand on one of the cages, Fallon was met by a hissing, long-tailed macaque.

At least three of the monkeys would escape, leading police, health authorities, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to descend on the area in search of the primates. Although the animals would later be captured and euthanized, the situation became more bizarre after Fallon fell ill the following day.

Speaking with local media, Fallon, who admitted to walking through the monkey’s feces, says she quickly developed a cough and a serious case of pink-eye that landed her in the emergency room. Fallon would be given a first dose of the rabies vaccine and a round of anti-viral medication as a result.

Fallon was told by the CDC to monitor her symptoms over the next month. Macaques are known to spread herpes virus B through their saliva, feces, and urine. 

It was later revealed that the monkeys had been flown in from the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius and were en route to a CDC-approved quarantine facility. Although it remains unclear what the monkeys will be used for, macaques are commonly used in medical experiments.

While serious questions remain, countless individuals online have already begun concocting theories of their own. Conspiracy theorists are suggesting that the crash was staged in order to unleash a new pandemic.

“Well with everything ending you know, the CDC might as well just try to keep things going!” Luke Rudkowski wrote.

Others referenced a months-old conspiracy theory that falsely alleged that billionaire Bill Gates would unleash smallpox on Christmas in order to cull the global population.


Over on Reddit’s popular r/conspiracy board, users suggested that Fallon had undoubtedly contracted the deadly disease Ebola.

“Oh shit there’s that air born ebola I been hearing about,” a user wrote.

The conspiratorial blog the Gateway Pundit argued that the truck crash somehow confirmed the theory that COVID-19 was a bioweapon that leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. One commenter on the site claimed that the entire scenario had been produced by Hollywood in conjunction with Democrats and the Chinese government.

“Democrats and the Chinese have Hollywood writing their scenarios for them now,” they wrote.

Numerous references were also made to the 1995 medical disaster film Outbreak, which surrounds an airborne virus caused by an African monkey.

“This was the premise to the movie ‘Outbreak’ and I don’t believe in coincidences,” the commenter said.

While concerns around the ethics and safety of animal experimentation are legitimate, the chances that the CDC purposely crashed a monkey truck in order to enact a more than 25-year-old movie on behalf of Bill Gates and China seems unlikely.

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*First Published: Jan 25, 2022, 12:46 pm CST