Wildlife, exotic pets, and emerging zoonoses

Bruno B Chomel, Albino Belotto, François-Xavier Meslin
Emerging Infectious Diseases 2007, 13 (1): 6-11
Most emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic; wildlife constitutes a large and often unknown reservoir. Wildlife can also be a source for reemergence of previously controlled zoonoses. Although the discovery of such zoonoses is often related to better diagnostic tools, the leading causes of their emergence are human behavior and modifications to natural habitats (expansion of human populations and their encroachment on wildlife habitat), changes in agricultural practices, and globalization of trade. However, other factors include wildlife trade and translocation, live animal and bushmeat markets, consumption of exotic foods, development of ecotourism, access to petting zoos, and ownership of exotic pets. To reduce risk for emerging zoonoses, the public should be educated about the risks associated with wildlife, bushmeat, and exotic pet trades; and proper surveillance systems should be implemented.

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