CDC Increases Oversight of Lab-Bound Monkeys After PETA Exposé of Disease

For Immediate Release:
February 6, 2023

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


Following sustained pressure from PETA and almost a year to the day after a truck carrying newly imported, laboratory-bound monkeys wrecked in Pennsylvania, spilling animals onto the highway, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new policies to address some of the public health risks associated with the importation of monkeys into the U.S.

Although the policies are discretely described as “clarifications” on the CDC’s website, they actually mark a significant and long-overdue increase in oversight of this secretive industry:

  1. It is mandatory to report disease symptoms. The CDC now explicitly requires all facilities that quarantine newly imported monkeys to report symptoms of illness in the animals that are suggestive of zoonotic diseases, such as diarrhea, coughing, fever, hemorrhage, abscesses, weight loss, anemia, abdominal masses, and vomiting. Documents obtained and released by PETA show that many monkeys who cleared the CDC-mandated 31-day quarantine period were eventually diagnosed with diseases transmissible to humans and other monkeys, including a pathogen designated as a bioterrorism agent by the CDC.
  2. Malaria treatment is mandatory. The CDC now states that any imported monkeys found to have malaria must be treated for the disease. This is the CDC’s first acknowledgement that monkeys brought to the U.S. could be infected with malaria, which can easily be transmitted to humans via mosquitos.

“These bare-minimum requirements should have been in place long ago, but we’re pleased the CDC is at last beginning to take action,” says PETA science advisor and primate expert Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “The only way to truly protect monkeys and the public, however, is to shut down this risky business entirely, which PETA will keep urging the CDC to do.”

Roughly 30,000 primates are imported into the U.S. each year. The majority are long-tailed macaques, who are now nearing extinction, largely due to experimenters’ voracious demand.

PETA notes that the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admit that 95% of all new drugs that test safe and effective in animals are either unsafe or ineffective in humans. PETA scientists’ Research Modernization Deal provides a strategy for replacing animals with modern, human-relevant research methods.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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