Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pandemic Threat from Exotic Pets

Another example of how the treatment of animals is linked to human well-being. Here, the exploitation of "exotic" animals increases the exposure of humans to infectious diseases.

Dorothy Crawford, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the University of Edinburgh, said that the risk to people from zoonoses – animal-borne microbes – had never been greater, and that there was a need to reexamine our relationship with wild and domestic animals....

Professor Crawford highlighted the example of a consignment of giant Gambian rats, which were flown from Ghana into the US as exotic pets. The rats carried monkeypox virus, which transferred to prairie dogs that were sold in the same pet shop. The prairie dogs then passed the disease to their human buyers. The chain of infection was only terminated after the microbe had infected 71 people. In another instance, crocodiles being farmed in Papua New Guinea to provide luxury items for the West had been infected by a virus from wild pig meat, which crossed to their keeper.

Professor Crawford, whose new book Deadly Companions was published last week, said that it was “only a matter of time” before the growing tourist demand for bush meat in Africa led to a new epidemic from microbes jumping from their primate host. She said that common sense could be as helpful as scientific advancement in preventing pandemics. “Microbes are always going to be one step ahead of us. Their generation time is 24 hours, ours is 30 years. They mutate, they change, they will find a way. They are amazing opportunists,” she said.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

This is a great post,it certainly makes good point, really i appreciate this.


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