HSUS commends US Dept. of Health and Human Services for ban on import

Snugglezzz at aol.com Snugglezzz at aol.com
Thu Jun 12 11:21:34 EDT 2003


WASHINGTON (June 12, 2003) ?The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
commends the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for
issuing an immediate ban on rodent imports from Africa in response to the
monkeypox virus outbreak in the U.S. The ban, issued yesterday, also
prohibits domestic sale and transport of several African rodent species
and prairie dogs.

?The federal agencies charged with safeguarding both the health of people
and animals in the U.S. have responded prudently with this decisive
action,? said Richard Farinato, director of The HSUS Captive Wildlife and
Habitat Protection Program. ?Experience has shown us the threats posed by
the import of non-native wild animals for the pet trade. Whether it is
reptile-associated salmonellosis, Heartwater disease, or monkeypox,
federal and state agencies should be taking proactive steps to avoid
further incidents. This is a significant step in addressing the serious
problems of the exotic pet trade.?

The HSUS is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) on communicating safety guidelines and recommendations for handling
potentially exposed animals to the animal care and control professionals
at the more than 3,000 animal shelters across the U.S. Details can be
found at www.animalsheltering.org.

Shelters often are the destination for relinquished pets. The CDC is
recommending to pet owners who have a prairie dog or other animal they
believe is showing symptoms of monkeypox, to quarantine the animal in
their home and call their state health department for further
instructions. The CDC advises pet owners not to relinquish their animal to
a shelter or take their animal to a veterinarian. Under no circumstances
should any potentially sick animal be released into the wild. Monkeypox
appears to have originated in portions of west and central Africa and is
not found in wild populations of prairie dogs or other rodents in the U.S.

Stephanie Shain, HSUS Director of Outreach for Companion Animals said, ?If
you are concerned that your pet has been exposed to monkeypox, follow the
advice from the CDC and call your state health department. The best thing
for all pet owners to do is keep abreast of the information on monkeypox
as it becomes available. Staying aware and informed is the best course of

The list of banned rodents includes the following African species: tree
squirrels, rope squirrels, dormice, Gambian giant pouched rats,
brush-tailed porcupines and striped mice. For more information, visit The
CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov or call 800-311-3435.

Viral outbreaks are not the only concern with the import of exotic
animals. Reptile-associated salmonellosis is also a public health problem.
In the 1970?s, the HSUS was involved in securing from the Food and Drug
Administration a ban on import and sale of turtles with a shell size under
four inches because of the threat of salmonella infection. In 1975, the
CDC banned the import of primate species for the pet trade due to herpes
and hepatitis concerns. In March 2000, the USDA placed an emergency ban on
the import and interstate commerce in three types of African tortoises
because of tick-borne Heartwater disease.

?Consumers should consider health risks and the humane issues associated
with any species of wild animal as a pet,? Farinato said. ?The risks with
bringing a wild animal into the home far outweigh the novelty and
fascination of owning an exotic species. People would be much better off
to consider adopting one of the millions of domestic companion animals in
this country who are waiting for homes.?

The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization with over
seven million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for
animals, with active programs in companion animals and equine protection;
wildlife and habitat protection; animals in research and farm animals and
sustainable agriculture. For nearly 50 years, The HSUS has protected all
animals through legislation, litigation, investigation, education,
advocacy and fieldwork. The non-profit organization is based in
Washington, DC and has 10 regional offices across the country. For more
information, visit The HSUS? Web site ? www.hsus.org.

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