January 01, 2011

 

 Report finds gaps in oversight of live animal imports

posted December 19, 2010
 
Gaps in federal oversight of live animal imports could allow the introduction of zoonoses and animal diseases into the country, according to a November report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
 

According to the GAO report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regulates the importation of certain types of live animals that pose a risk of carrying specific zoonoses. Yet, the CDC does not have a process for assessing the risk of zoonotic disease by animal type and country of origin.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has regulations to prevent the importation of injurious wildlife, including nonnative animals that could become invasive species. Nevertheless, FWS generally has not restricted wildlife imports on the basis of disease risk, according to the GAO report.

In contrast, the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service restricts importation of live animals that the agency finds could pose a disease risk to agricultural animals in the United States. To assess the disease risk, APHIS considers animal type and country of origin.

The report notes that the CDC, FWS, and APHIS each have proposed additional actions to protect against disease risks from live animal imports. The GAO recommended that the CDC, FWS, and APHIS increase collaboration with one another and with Customs and Border Protection in overseeing live animal imports.