Get 20M+ Full-Text Papers For Less Than $1.50/day. Start a 14-Day Trial for You and Your Team.

Learn More →

Smuggled Wildlife Products Seized at US Airports Harbor Zoonotic Viruses

Smuggled Wildlife Products Seized at US Airports Harbor Zoonotic Viruses Researchers have uncovered evidence of retroviruses and herpesviruses in illegally imported wildlife products seized at several US international airports, sounding an alarm that these products could act as a conduit for disease emergence and pathogen spread (Smith KM et al. PLoS One. 2012;7[1]:e29505). (Photo credit: Patrick Landmann/www.sciencesource.com) Bushmeat, commonly sold at markets in Africa and sometimes illegally imported into the United States, can harbor zoonotic viruses. Researchers recently detected retroviruses, herpesviruses, or both in smuggled bushmeat from nonhuman primates that was seized at US airports. Although health experts have always been aware of risks posed by contact with certain species of wildlife, including nonhuman primates and rodents, “it hasn't been possible to quantify the risk posed by smuggled products of these species entering the United States,” said Kristine Smith, DVM, the study's lead author. “This pilot study has developed the methodology to begin to achieve this goal,” said Smith, an associate director for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance, an international nonprofit conservation organization based in New York City. Wildlife trade risks Importation of wild animals (mostly as exotic pets) in the United States has introduced such diseases as amphibian chytridiomycosis, exotic Newcastle disease, and monkeypox, which have put wildlife, livestock, and public health, respectively, at risk. In addition, hunting and butchering of bushmeat from wild nonhuman primates in Africa have resulted in cross-species transmission of several retroviruses to humans, including simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), simian T-lymphotropic virus (STLV), and simian foamy virus (SFV). “Approximately $200 billion has been spent over the past 20 years or so in response to the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases in people,” said Marguerite Pappaioanou, DVM, PhD, who is the past executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. “So doing a better job up front of monitoring and mitigating these risks to prevent outbreaks and pandemics from occurring in the first place would save lives and prevent the need for a large, expensive response.” Pappaioanou, currently a senior technical advisor at Development Alternatives, a development consulting company based in Bethesda, was cochair of a committee that wrote a 2009 Institute of Medicine/National Research Council report on surveillance and response to emerging zoonotic diseases (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12625). Regulations established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prohibit the importation of various species and of bushmeat products derived from certain animals. In collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, EcoHealth Alliance, the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the CDC has initiated a pilot project to establish surveillance and testing methods for zoonotic agents in wildlife products confiscated at US airports. Bushmeat and beyond During this pilot project, 8 postal shipments confiscated from John F. Kennedy International Airport from October 2008 to September 2010 and 20 passenger-carried packages confiscated from airports in Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Houston; and Atlanta from June 2010 to September 2010 were of sufficient quality to be examined for study. An additional collection of 20 nonhuman primate tissues seized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2006 was also included. Among the confiscated products, Smith and her colleagues identified raw to semicooked animal parts that originated from wild nonhuman primate and rodent species, including baboon, chimpanzee, mangabey, guenon, green monkey, cane rat, and rat. Pathogen screening identified retroviruses (4 SFV strains), herpesviruses (cytomegalovirus and lymphocryptovirus), or both in 12 nonhuman primate tissue samples. “Because most emerging infectious diseases of humans are originating in animals, it is of concern that even in this small number of samples from a limited number of animal species, it was possible to identify retroviruses and herpesviruses of potential concern for human populations,” said Gerald Keusch, MD, who was not involved with the research. Keusch, a professor of medicine and international health at Boston University, cochaired the 2009 surveillance and response report with Pappaioanou. None of the samples contained SIV or STLV, which have adapted to humans and spread as HIV and human T-lymphotropic virus (which is capable of causing leukemia, lymphoma, and neurologic disease), respectively; however, SIV and STLV are often present in specimens at bushmeat markets and in hunted nonhuman primates. None of the rodent samples carried viruses: all were negative for leptospira, anthrax, herpesviruses, filoviruses, paramyxoviruses, coronaviruses, flaviviruses, and orthopoxviruses. Broader surveillance is needed to expand the study's findings, which only begin to paint a picture of the potential risks of imported wildlife products and do not address live wildlife. “We need more and smarter surveillance of the wildlife trade, more control over what is being transported across national boundaries, more and stricter law enforcement measures to stop individuals involved in the business, and better and more meaningful ways to inform the public about the inherent dangers in a believable manner,” said Keusch. “In terms of global spread of infectious diseases, wildlife may be the mosquitoes of the 21st century: effective, elusive, and damned hard to stop.” http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png JAMA American Medical Association

Smuggled Wildlife Products Seized at US Airports Harbor Zoonotic Viruses

JAMA , Volume 307 (8) – Feb 22, 2012

Loading next page...
 
/lp/american-medical-association/smuggled-wildlife-products-seized-at-us-airports-harbor-zoonotic-h7d7tYRkJG
Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
0098-7484
eISSN
1538-3598
DOI
10.1001/jama.2012.178
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Researchers have uncovered evidence of retroviruses and herpesviruses in illegally imported wildlife products seized at several US international airports, sounding an alarm that these products could act as a conduit for disease emergence and pathogen spread (Smith KM et al. PLoS One. 2012;7[1]:e29505). (Photo credit: Patrick Landmann/www.sciencesource.com) Bushmeat, commonly sold at markets in Africa and sometimes illegally imported into the United States, can harbor zoonotic viruses. Researchers recently detected retroviruses, herpesviruses, or both in smuggled bushmeat from nonhuman primates that was seized at US airports. Although health experts have always been aware of risks posed by contact with certain species of wildlife, including nonhuman primates and rodents, “it hasn't been possible to quantify the risk posed by smuggled products of these species entering the United States,” said Kristine Smith, DVM, the study's lead author. “This pilot study has developed the methodology to begin to achieve this goal,” said Smith, an associate director for health and policy at EcoHealth Alliance, an international nonprofit conservation organization based in New York City. Wildlife trade risks Importation of wild animals (mostly as exotic pets) in the United States has introduced such diseases as amphibian chytridiomycosis, exotic Newcastle disease, and monkeypox, which have put wildlife, livestock, and public health, respectively, at risk. In addition, hunting and butchering of bushmeat from wild nonhuman primates in Africa have resulted in cross-species transmission of several retroviruses to humans, including simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), simian T-lymphotropic virus (STLV), and simian foamy virus (SFV). “Approximately $200 billion has been spent over the past 20 years or so in response to the emergence of zoonotic infectious diseases in people,” said Marguerite Pappaioanou, DVM, PhD, who is the past executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. “So doing a better job up front of monitoring and mitigating these risks to prevent outbreaks and pandemics from occurring in the first place would save lives and prevent the need for a large, expensive response.” Pappaioanou, currently a senior technical advisor at Development Alternatives, a development consulting company based in Bethesda, was cochair of a committee that wrote a 2009 Institute of Medicine/National Research Council report on surveillance and response to emerging zoonotic diseases (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12625). Regulations established by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prohibit the importation of various species and of bushmeat products derived from certain animals. In collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History, Columbia University, EcoHealth Alliance, the US Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the CDC has initiated a pilot project to establish surveillance and testing methods for zoonotic agents in wildlife products confiscated at US airports. Bushmeat and beyond During this pilot project, 8 postal shipments confiscated from John F. Kennedy International Airport from October 2008 to September 2010 and 20 passenger-carried packages confiscated from airports in Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Houston; and Atlanta from June 2010 to September 2010 were of sufficient quality to be examined for study. An additional collection of 20 nonhuman primate tissues seized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service at John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2006 was also included. Among the confiscated products, Smith and her colleagues identified raw to semicooked animal parts that originated from wild nonhuman primate and rodent species, including baboon, chimpanzee, mangabey, guenon, green monkey, cane rat, and rat. Pathogen screening identified retroviruses (4 SFV strains), herpesviruses (cytomegalovirus and lymphocryptovirus), or both in 12 nonhuman primate tissue samples. “Because most emerging infectious diseases of humans are originating in animals, it is of concern that even in this small number of samples from a limited number of animal species, it was possible to identify retroviruses and herpesviruses of potential concern for human populations,” said Gerald Keusch, MD, who was not involved with the research. Keusch, a professor of medicine and international health at Boston University, cochaired the 2009 surveillance and response report with Pappaioanou. None of the samples contained SIV or STLV, which have adapted to humans and spread as HIV and human T-lymphotropic virus (which is capable of causing leukemia, lymphoma, and neurologic disease), respectively; however, SIV and STLV are often present in specimens at bushmeat markets and in hunted nonhuman primates. None of the rodent samples carried viruses: all were negative for leptospira, anthrax, herpesviruses, filoviruses, paramyxoviruses, coronaviruses, flaviviruses, and orthopoxviruses. Broader surveillance is needed to expand the study's findings, which only begin to paint a picture of the potential risks of imported wildlife products and do not address live wildlife. “We need more and smarter surveillance of the wildlife trade, more control over what is being transported across national boundaries, more and stricter law enforcement measures to stop individuals involved in the business, and better and more meaningful ways to inform the public about the inherent dangers in a believable manner,” said Keusch. “In terms of global spread of infectious diseases, wildlife may be the mosquitoes of the 21st century: effective, elusive, and damned hard to stop.”

Journal

JAMAAmerican Medical Association

Published: Feb 22, 2012

Keywords: zoonotic viruses

There are no references for this article.