URGENT NEWS ADVISORY
Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Contact: Michael Budkie, SAEN, 513.575-5517
PORTLAND - A mysterious disease is sweeping the Oregon
Primate Research Center here and has killed hundreds of infant primates
- nearly one-third of the entire infant population - according to an
"epidemic alert" issued by a national research watchdog
organization this week.
According to government records, 394 infant/juvenile
rhesus monkeys - about one-third of the 1,199 housed - died at the
facility operated by Oregon Health Science University through the end of
2003, said Cincinnati-based research watchdog SAEN.
"Fully one-third of the infant/juvenile population at
the center died during 2002-2003. Deaths of this magnitude could only be
caused by disease approaching epidemic proportions," said Michael A.
Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director of SAEN.
Budkie said the primate center has also failed to
comply with requests for further information of the deaths, and requests
to tour the facility made in August of last year.
This week, SAEN filed an official complaint against
the primate center requesting an investigation of the facilities from
the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
"Apparently the officials at the Oregon Primate
Research Center have something to hide. They are trying to cover up this
epidemic," added Budkie. "It is clear that the Primate Center system
doesn't need to expand. The only reason there may be a `shortage' of
primates for research is that they are dying of disease and neglect."
According to government reports, the primate center
receives approximately $159 million per year, primarily from the Federal