Bushmeats illegally imported from Africa to the US contain potentially dangerous bacteria, according to a new study made public in the US.
The study led by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was published by PLoS ONE magazine.
Items confiscated as part of the study ranges from raw to semi-cooked animal parts, including those of primates like baboons and chimpanzees as well as various species of rodent.
Among the pathogens identified in the products were zoonotic retrovirus, simian foamy viruses, and several non-human primate herpes viruses.
“Exotic wildlife pets and bushmeats are Trojan horses that threaten humankind at sites where they are collected in the developing world as well as the US,” said Ian Lipkin, a researcher from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
“Our study underscores the importance of surveillance at ports, but we must also encourage efforts to reduce demand for products that drive the wildlife trade,” he added.
The United States is one of the largest consumers of imported wildlife products and wildlife.
A previous study by EcoHealth Alliance showed that over a six-year period that began in 2000 approximately 1.5 billion live wild animals were legally imported into the country with 90 percent slated for the pet trade.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has also reported that more than 55 million pounds (25 million kilograms) of wildlife products enter the country each year, with New York City being the most common port of entry followed by Miami, and Los Angeles.