Molecular Diagnostics for Species and Pathogen Identification in Bushmeat: Tools for Animal Conservation
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011
Tracie Seimon1,2, PhD; Denise McAloose1, VMD, DACVP; Simon Anthony2,3, PhD; Kristine M. Smith1,3, DVM, DACZM; William Switzer4, PhD; Tylis Chang5, MD; G. Gale Galland4, MS, DVM; Nina Marano4, MPH, DVM; W. Ian Lipkin2, MD
1Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, New York, NY, USA; 2Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA; 3EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY, USA; 4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA; 5Department of Pathology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, NY, USA


Wildlife trade is a multibillion dollar global industry that impacts conservation, biodiversity and health. Millions of wild animals are collected and legally or illegally traded annually.2 Approximately 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic3, and the majority originate from wildlife1. Hence, handling and trade of wildlife are important factors in the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. However, little is known about species or repertoire of pathogens moved through the bushmeat trade. In this presentation we will discuss current molecular assays and their implementation in a program focused on surveillance of bushmeat confiscated at several US ports of entry. ‘DNA barcoding’ results identified bushmeat sample origin from nonhuman primates, including guenon (Cercopithecus sp.) and mangabey (Cercocebus sp.), bats, such as the greater long-tongued fruit bat (Macroglossus sobrinus), and cane rat (Thryonomys sp.). The application of family-level virus screening, also known as consensus PCR, of bushmeat from non-human primates revealed multiple strains of simian foamy virus and primate herpesviruses from two genera. Our results demonstrate the applicability of molecular diagnostic testing for species and pathogen identification in wildlife trade products. These results further help define animal species and pathogens present in the global wildlife trade and will be important in informing discussions and implementing strategies to protect public health as well as the conservation of animal species.


The authors would like to thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding this project.

Literature Cited

1.  Jones KE, Patel NG, Levy MA, Storeygard A, Balk D, Gittleman JL, Daszak P. Global trends in emerging infectious diseases. Nature. 2008;451:990–993.

2.  Karesh WB, Cook RA, Bennett EL, Newcomb J. Wildlife trade and global disease emergence. Emerg Infect Dis. 2005;11:1000–1002.

3.  Taylor LH, Latham SM, Woolhouse MEJ. Risk factors for human disease emergence. Philos Trans Biol Sci. 2001;356:983–989.


Speaker Information
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Tracie Seimon, PhD
Wildlife Conservation Society
Bronx, New York, NY, USA

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