Risk of importing zoonotic diseases through wildlife trade, United States

Boris I Pavlin, Lisa M Schloegel, Peter Daszak
Emerging Infectious Diseases 2009, 15 (11): 1721-6
The United States is the world's largest wildlife importer, and imported wild animals represent a potential source of zoonotic pathogens. Using data on mammals imported during 2000-2005, we assessed their potential to host 27 selected risk zoonoses and created a risk assessment that could inform policy making for wildlife importation and zoonotic disease surveillance. A total of 246,772 mammals in 190 genera (68 families) were imported. The most widespread agents of risk zoonoses were rabies virus (in 78 genera of mammals), Bacillus anthracis (57), Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (48), Echinococcus spp. (41), and Leptospira spp. (35). Genera capable of harboring the greatest number of risk zoonoses were Canis and Felis (14 each), Rattus (13), Equus (11), and Macaca and Lepus (10 each). These findings demonstrate the myriad opportunities for zoonotic pathogens to be imported and suggest that, to ensure public safety, immediate proactive changes are needed at multiple levels.

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