Monkeys in India Stole Covid-19 Blood Samples, Chewed on Them

Monkeys in Kerala, India. These are not the monkeys who stole the coronavirus blood samples.
Monkeys in Kerala, India. These are not the monkeys who stole the coronavirus blood samples.
Photo: Getty Images

A band of thieving monkeys attacked a lab researcher in India and made off with blood test samples taken from covid-19 patients.

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Reuters reports that the monkey mugging happened on a college campus in the city of Meerut. The animals attacked a lab technician working at the college and stole several blood samples before making their escape. Later video footage showed one of the monkeys handling the samples and putting them in its mouth, the Times of India reports.

“Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four covid-19 patients who are undergoing treatment … we had to take their blood samples again,” said S. K. Garg, a top official at the college, Reuters reports.

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Aggressive monkeys in India are nothing new. These primate populations are not bothered by human contact and frequently live off scraps of food given to them by people. But the lockdowns implemented in India have reportedly led to more monkey encroachment into previously crowded human spaces. Some people in the area are also worried that the monkeys are becoming more aggressive due to hunger, since they are no longer being fed by humans, according to Sky News.

It’s unclear whether the theft may endanger the monkeys themselves. Lab experiments have shown that it’s possible for some species of monkeys to be infected with the coronavirus and subsequently develop symptoms similar to what we see in people. But that doesn’t mean that these monkeys would get infected from chewing on samples, even assuming they were exposed to live virus.

Still, if any year could lead to a horror movie scenario breaking out, it’s this one.

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Science writer at Gizmodo and pug aficionado elsewhere

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DISCUSSION

How would you like to be the vampire, er, phlebotomist, who got to explain to the patient that they had to do another draw cause the first one got stolen by monkeys?  Is there an  insurance code for “replacing prior sample stolen by poop-flingers?”