Thursday, April 17, 2008

Monkey That Bit Child Euthanized For Rabies Test

A monkey that had bitten a 6-year-old girl in Trenton and then was transported to a Monroe County home was euthanized so it could be tested for rabies.

Wayne County health officials confirmed the monkey did not have rabies, but its blood is being tested for other life-threatening diseases.

Loretta Davis, health officer/director with the Wayne County Department of Public Health, said rabies testing only can be done with a biopsy of the brain, so the monkey had to be put down. She said she understood the monkey was someone's pet, but the girl's health was the main concern.

"This was a fairly serious situation," Ms. Davis said. "It's unfortunate, but it did need to be done."

The primate was a Java macaque monkey, which only can be owned as a pet in Michigan with a proper permit. Blood samples were sent to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta to determine whether the monkey was carrying viruses such as hepatitis, HIV and tuberculosis, which is possible for that type of species.

The biting incident occurred April 6 outside a church off Jefferson Ave. in Trenton. Children were playing outside that day when a man walking his pet monkey on a leash approached. As the man got closer, the monkey suddenly jumped on the girl's shoulder.

She tried to get the monkey off her, and it bit her on the finger, officials said. The puncture wound caused bleeding, and the girl was treated in a local hospital.

Hospital officials then contacted the health department, which began an investigation. Ms. Davis said someone took the monkey to a home in Monroe County where a recent owner lives.

Linda Benson, director of Monroe County Animal Control, said the animal was in her facility briefly until Wayne County officials retrieved the primate under armed guard.

It originally reported to The Evening News that a boy was bitten and that he was seriously ill. That was incorrect. There has been only one monkey bite incident reported recently.

Ms. Davis said she did not know whether the owners had a permit to keep the monkey legally. However, the main issue was the health of the child, she said. Since the rabies test came back negative, the youngster did not have to undergo painful shots.

Ms. Davis said it should be several days before final results are available. She said about 80 percent of that species of monkey carries the herpes virus. She said there is no vaccine for rabies, such as there is for dogs, so there is no way to prevent disease. That is why she advises against owning exotic monkeys.

Story here.

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