Skip to comments.Imported African Bushmeat Paired With a Side of Zoonosis
Posted on 02/21/2012 10:37:18 PM PST by nickcarraway
Illegal wildlife products imported into the United States may contain a variety of zoonotic viruses, according to new research.
A new pilot study investigated the presence of zoonotic viruses among illegally imported nonhuman primate (NHP) bushmeat samples confiscated from five U.S. international airports. Researchers found four simian foamy virus (SFV) strains and two herpesviruses (cytomegalovirus and lymphocryptovirus) among the NHP samples seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents (PLoS One 2012;7:e29505).
Four species tested positive for both SFV and herpesviruses: the African Green Monkey, baboon, chimpanzee and mangabey. Additionally, a greater white-nosed monkey specimen tested positive for cytomegalovirus.
Nearly 75% of emerging infectious diseases are of zoonotic origin. Although the United States is the largest importer of live wildlife and associated products, this was the first investigation of zoonotic viruses in the illegal bushmeat trade entering the U.S.
The known herpesviruses found in this study are not easily transmissable between NHPs and humans. We know that SFV can and has spread from NHPs to humans, primarily zoo workers and hunters in West Africa; however, so far no clinical signs have been observed in humans, said Kristine Smith, DVM, associate director for health and policy, the EcoHealth Alliance in New York City, and lead author of the pilot study.
But Dr. Smith added that because SFV is a retrovirus and its transmission to humans only has been studied over the past decade, its risk to humans still is under investigation.
The health risk posed by contaminated bushmeat is not limited only to the consumer. The potential for transmission exists along the trade chain, including the hunter, trader, market hubs, food preparers and consumers. The spread of disease depends on the transmissability of the pathogen, said Dr. Smith.
[Past] examples of zoonotic viral introductions to North America stemming from the wildlife trade include the SARS virus, which spread from civet cats to humans in the trade markets of China. Monkeypox was introduced by legally imported rodents from West Africa that were intended to become pets. The rodents transmitted the virus to prarie dogs which then spread the virus to their owners, many of whom were children, Dr. Smith explained.
The pilot study also included 35 rodents (14 cane rats, 18 suspected cane rats and three rats of unknown species), but none tested positive for a zoonotic virus.
Although the illegal bushmeat trade poses a minimal risk to human health in the United States, those at the front lines of zoonotic disease research can attest to their true impact.
I would say that the most significant public health threat doesnt lie in the United States or Europe, where those [bushmeat] parts might be consumed people living in endemic areas and who are consistently exposed to zoonotic diseases suffer the biggest health burden, said Eric Fèvre, PhD, a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development fellow at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
Dr. Fèvre currently is researching zoonotic diseases transmitted between livestock and humans in endemic settings throughout Eastern Africa. [These people] are either dying from it or being severely affected by it for many years of their lives, and thats where the important disease burden lies, he explained.
An improved understanding of the root causes of zoonotic diseases, how they spread and their affect on both developed and underdeveloped nations ultimately offers the best line of defense. In order to properly understand why these things happen we really need to be working in the communities that are affected on a day-to-day basis, said Dr. Fèvre.
Dr. Smith believes that the surveillance protocols created through this pilot study were a successful first step, but expanding the project to additional ports and species is an important step for the future.
The confiscated NHP bushmeat samples in this pilot study came from JFK Airport in New York, Philadelphia International Airport, Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia.
Most of the samples were confiscated between 2008 and 2010. One additional collection of bushmeat was included from a 2006 federal case that involved a Staten Island woman who was the intended recipient of an illegal shipment.
We need proactive health surveillance of live wildlife and wildlife imports, both legal and illegal. Currently, there is very little surveillance of imported wildlife, leaving an #ff0000 risk to public health, said Dr. Smith.
"FOAMY"??? EEEEEWWWWWW. :(
What if you cook it real thoroughly?
Beer battered, deep fried, bar-b-qued, shoot, it’s all damn good eatin. If you have a cast iron stomach and immune system.
Correction cane rat/
OMG Let alone blaming BUSH now he is being eaten. What is next?
Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm!!!