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Woman faces charges after her monkey bit a child in Pendleton County

Austria Pygmy Marmoset
Posted at 10:23 AM, May 23, 2023

A 58-year-old woman faces charges after a small monkey in her home bit a child, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

Officials with the agency said it received a tip and, after obtaining a warrant to search a home in Pendleton County, found and seized a marmoset that had bitten the girl. The marmoset was seized on May 19, though officials said they were told the bite happened in late April.

"This could probably be the only one that I could think of that I've dealt with," said Justin Pittman, environmental specialist with Three Rivers District Health Department.

State law says any person bitten or in contact with native wildlife or an exotic animal can create exposure to infections so animal bites are required to be reported to the local health department within 24 hours. Pittman said the Pendleton County Health Center never got a call.

"I think I would have remembered had it been reported back in April," he said. "To my knowledge, the first we heard of this was Friday from Fish and Wildlife."

The marmoset was euthanized "in accordance with state wildlife and public health laws so it could be tested for rabies to determine if the bite victim needed treatment for rabies," Kentucky Fish and Wildlife said.

"We don't have a definitive amount of days that we know it's safe to quarantine them to assure the human couldn't get rabies like we do with dogs and cats," Pittman said.

Ultimately, the marmoset tested negative for rabies, according to the agency.

Jeannie Wilson has been charged with one count of propagation and holding wildlife without a permit. According to court documents, this is the second time Wilson has been found in possession of a primate; the first time, however, she removed the animals before officers were able to take them, but photos of the animals were found on her phone.

"Primates are defined as inherently dangerous wildlife by state administrative regulation and it is illegal to import, transport or possess them in Kentucky without a permit," reads a statement from Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

The marmoset had to be euthanized because, according to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, testing requires brain tissue to provide reliable results.

"State wildlife and public health officials were in communication about the matter and agreed that euthanizing the animal was required by law because of the circumstances and a medical necessity given the serious public health risk that rabies poses to people," says the statement.

Wilson was arraigned at the Pendleton County District Court on Tuesday. Her case is scheduled to be reviewed on June 12.

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