The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists have released a joint statement urging federal agencies to restrict the importation and exportation of native and foreign wildlife to protect public health.
The statement recommends that the recently instituted federal ban on the importation and movement of African rodents and prairie dogs be expanded to restrict the importation, exportation, and movement of all exotic wildlife. The statement also recommends that a working group comprising representatives from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the NASPHV and CSTE be formed to develop the restrictions on wildlife trade.
In the June 26 statement, the NASPHV and the CSTE said: "A lucrative and largely unregulated trade in imported exotic wildlife is thriving in the United States. This trade poses a risk of introducing and disseminating exotic zoonotic pathogens. These pathogens threaten both human and animal health, and have the potential to become established and maintained in native animal and insect reservoirs."
As an example, organizations pointed to a recent outbreak of monkeypox in animals and humans that was traced back to animal dealers selling exotic wildlife as an example. In response to that outbreak, officials from the CDC and the FDA implemented and emergency executive order June 11 restricting the movement of African rodents and prairie dogs.
The full statement is available online at www.cste.org/PS/2003pdfs/03-ID-13%20-%20FINAL.pdf.