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Press Releases

'Epidemic' Sweeping Oregon Primate Center, Hundreds of Infant Monkeys Dead, Charges Watchdog Group

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 Government.


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