Exploring Links between Wildlife Trafficking and Infectious Disease Spread

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On behalf of the USAID-funded Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking Program, a special agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presented wildlife trade dynamics and supply and demand drivers at the USAID Partners Meeting on Value Chains and Zoonotic Pathogens, part of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) Program. The presentation focused on the common routes used by traffickers and the links between the routes, the animals trafficked and the potential for infectious diseases to be carried across borders. Illicit wildlife products especially live animals for the pet trade and food, constantly cross borders destined for consumer markets. The presentation highlighted case studies of such instances, one included a trafficker smuggling a live non-human primate (NHP), well known to have high risk of disease transmission to humans, from Asia to the U.S. on commercial airlines exposing many people to possible infection. Animals such as birds, mammals and NHPs are all common in wildlife trafficking and all pose potential risk of transmitting infectious disease to humans. ARREST will continue to collaborate with the EPT Program to further discuss links between potential disease spread and wildlife trafficking and best practices and collaboration opportunities to cooperatively address the issue.

 

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