For Immediate Release:
June 22, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Atlanta – PETA is calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to take immediate action to protect humans and animals following confirmation of a tuberculosis (TB) outbreak among imported monkeys in a Michigan laboratory after the agency failed to detect the disease during a 31-day quarantine.
State health officials confirmed to PETA and the Michigan media that an outbreak of TB in the Northern Biomedical Research laboratory led to a reportable disease investigation. Two laboratory workers tested positive for TB and were referred for treatment.
In a letter sent to the CDC today, PETA urges the agency to do the following:
- Stop all imports of monkeys from Mauritius, an island nation currently experiencing a massive TB outbreak among monkeys destined for U.S. laboratories.
- Retest all monkeys imported from Mauritius during the past six months using a reliable and sophisticated algorithm that can detect animals exposed to and/or infected with TB.
- Order the testing of all humans who have handled monkeys from Mauritius.
- Warn state health departments nationwide, alerting them to recent cases of TB in imported monkeys and the potential for transmission of the disease among people in contact with monkeys in facilities that import and/or maintain primates.
“The CDC has failed in its responsibility to properly monitor the primate importation and quarantine process and is subjecting the public to the risk of zoonotic infections,” says PETA primate scientist and TB expert Dr. Lisa Jones-Engel. “PETA is calling on federal authorities to shut down the cruel and dangerous monkey-importation pipeline before it leads to the next pandemic.”
Yesterday, PETA rushed letters to state veterinarians and public health officials nationwide, urging them to prohibit monkeys from entering their states and to initiate a TB quarantine in all 39 states where facilities have received monkeys during the past six months.
The infected primates, all long-tailed macaques, who are listed as an endangered species, had undergone a 31-day quarantine mandated by the CDC at a facility in Florida before arriving in Michigan. The CDC apparently failed to detect any infections, in part because the test used is notoriously unreliable.
PETA has repeatedly asked the CDC to ban imports of monkeys from Mauritius—where local media recently reported a TB outbreak among monkeys at one export facility—and other countries due to the risk of disease spillover. The CDC recently defied federal recommendations to comprehensively assess and conduct surveillance of the disease risks associated with imported primates.
The CDC’s own documentation reveals an increase in the number of TB-infected monkeys arriving in the U.S. since 2021. PETA has urged the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases to take action to mitigate the risk to the public posed by imported monkeys.
The Michigan and CDC records obtained by PETA are available upon request.
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 PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.