Tuberculosis Outbreak at Covance’s Wisconsin Facility Highlights Dangers
PCRM recently learned that five monkeys at a Covance Laboratories research facility in Madison, Wis., tested positive for tuberculosis in June of this year, and 32 monkeys were killed to stop the spread of the disease. Animal cruelty issues aside, this incident highlights the serious dangers that Covance, a contract animal-testing company, could bring to Chandler, Ariz., where it is attempting to build a new facility.
According to documents recently obtained by Citizens Against Covance from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection and provided to PCRM, TB was not detected in the five monkeys at Covance’s quarantine facility in Texas before they were shipped to Madison. This TB outbreak contradicts Covance’s claims that its quarantine facility in Texas will prevent imported primates carrying infectious diseases from being sent to regional research facilities like the one in Madison or the proposed location in Chandler.
TB is a highly infectious, airborne disease that can be easily transmitted from non-human primates to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease is hard to detect and can lie dormant in a host for months before it becomes symptomatic. Treatment for TB typically requires at least a six-month regimen that involves taking more than four medications at a time.
“Covance has imported monkeys infected with tuberculosis, and the company’s quarantine facility failed to detect the disease, raising the possibility that even more dangerous diseases such as the Ebola virus could reach Chandler if the new lab is built,” says Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H., a public health specialist with PCRM. “Covance has not been honest with Chandler residents or public officials about this outbreak or the larger danger.”
PCRM Online, January 2007