Medical research lab under fire over thousands of monkey deaths

The National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare is investigating the Seattle-based University of Washington's Primate Research Center, Lynnwood Times reported Feb. 4.

The investigation comes after the Arizona Republic uncovered evidence of the disease and drug research center's monkeys being subjected to neglect, harm and thousands of deaths.

Washington National Primate Research Center allegedly violated animal health and import regulations, failed to prevent deadly diseases being introduced and spread among the monkeys, and operated its Mesa, Airz. breeding facility without state oversight, the report said.

Valley Fever, a disease caused by a fungus that lives in the soil around Phoenix, has killed at least 47 of the center's monkeys over the last eight years, the report said. Monkeys at the Mesa facility are drinking well water tainted with rocket fuel runoff contaminants, despite a 2016 recommendation the facility install a water treatment system.

The center's history of negligence and regulatory violations includes the deaths of thousands of monkeys. Since 2011, pigtail macaques at the center have died because they weren't given food or water for extended periods, and one monkey died of respiratory arrest in 2019 after an experimenter insisted a surgery be performed on it despite not having been properly fasted beforehand.

The NIH opened the federal investigation of the center in December. 

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