Escaped monkey, hospital employee tested for herpes after monkey bite

Illegal monkey in captured
Published: Mar. 26, 2015 at 4:55 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 25, 2015 at 4:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte-area hospital employee and a monkey that escaped from it's confinement are being tested for herpes after the monkey bit the employee in the parking lot of the hospital.

The bite happened Wednesday afternoon at Carolinas Medical Center-University after officers were called out about a report of a monkey loose in the parking lot.

Officials from Carolinas Healthcare System, which runs the hospital, say "a small monkey apparently escaped from a car parked in our visitor's parking lot. The monkey never entered the hospital and was apprehended outside by a hospital maintenance worker who placed it in a bin."

The monkey, first identified as a Capuchin monkey and later identified as a Macaque monkey, goes by the name Carter. Officials say Carter then bit the employee and escaped. He was caught nearly 30 hours later when he appeared back on hospital grounds.

According to the Mecklenburg County Department of Health, the employee and Carter, the monkey, are being tested for Herpes B.

Health Department officials say Herpes B is naturally occurring in Macaque monkeys and the virus can be fatal to humans, if not treated.

Officials say the monkey underwent a blood test and will have another test in 14 days and another in 21 days. Carter will reportedly be held in quarantine for 30 days.

The employee is undergoing the same blood tests, according to health officials, but is not being held in quarantine. If it turns out the worker contracted Herpes B from the monkey, he will be treated. Officials say the early test and treatment, if needed, should be enough to keep the employee safe.

The employee is also undergoing treatment for rabies, since Carter can not be tested for rabies while he's still alive.

Animal Care and Control officers say Carter was caught Thursday evening with the help of a family member of his owner. He was then put into rabies isolation, according to officials who are working with the epidemiologist specialist from the health department.

In the search warrant filed after the monkey bite occurred, investigators say they've had run-ins with Carter's owner in the past. They cited a March 2014 incident where the woman refused to turn the monkey over to officers after she was issued a city ordinance violation for having an exotic animal in city limits.

Gidget DeLollis says she would love to give the monkey a permanent home at her sanctuary, which is located in a county in WBTV's viewing area where it's legal to have monkeys.

"It's like having a two-year-old child," said DeLollis. "They're difficult to take care of but also fun to take care of. They require a lot of care, a lot of specialized vet care, and require a lot of your time, a lot of socialization."

DeLollis says she's owned monkeys for 15 years and has been running the sanctuary for 2 years. She has a 2-year-old Capuchin similar to the one captured in Charlotte, and 2 spider monkeys - a 6-year-old and a 12-year-old.

Her monkeys have their own large inside and outside play areas where they roam around. They also have their own beds.

DeLollis says she doesn't know much about the case of monkey in Charlotte but thinks it was wrong for the owner to have had him in car - alone - in a city where it's illegal to have monkeys.

"I would have to know the full details to say 'totally irresponsible.' I don't feel a monkey should be left in a car alone - no," she says. "I'm glad they're quarantining the monkey rather than killing the monkey and testing it. That's great."

DeLollis says monkeys don't carry rabies. "If it were to get bit by something that has rabies, they're going to die if they're don't get treated. They're not a carrier. It's a misconception. They don't carry rabies."

DeLollis says she's ready and willing to take Carter if CMPD's Animal Control needs a home for the animal.

"It's not easy but you have to be dedicated," she says. "And you have to know they have a long life span and you just have to deal with it and learn."

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