Wildlife Trade as a Potential Source of Emerging Zoonotic Pathogens in South America
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011
A. Patricia Mendoza1, DVM, CEID; Donald J. Brightsmith2, PhD; Erika Alandia3, DVM; Fabiola Suarez3, DVM; Nancy Cavero1, BSc; Charlene Lujan4, BSc; Mirella Villena4, DVM; Yohani Ibañez1, Biol.; Cinthya Rynaby1; Bruno Ghersi5, BSc, MSc (c); Alberto Perez1,3,6, DVM; Marcela Uhart1,3,6, DVM; Joel M. Montgomery5,7, PhD
1Wildlife Conservation Society, Lima, Peru; 2Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA; 3Wildlife Conservation Society, La Paz, Bolivia; 4School of Veterinary Medicine, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Peru; 5US Naval Medical Research Unit 6, Callao, Peru; 6Wildlife Conservation Society, Puerto Madryn, Argentina; 7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA


Despite existing laws that regulate and ban the trade of wild animals in the region, wildlife markets work openly every day across South American countries.2,4,5,9,11 Wildlife trade occurs daily in at least 26 markets in Peru, and during weekend markets in most regions of Bolivia. More than 3000 live animals can be offered in a single day at a market in Peru, with wildlife species accounting for 5% to 65% of this open trade. Furthermore, large numbers of these species are smuggled internationally.7,8,11 Our records indicate that at least 23,000 live animals were illegally shipped from a Peruvian city during a period of 9 mo (2010–2011). Due to the illegal nature of this trade, controls on animal health are routinely evaded.6,12

Inappropriate animal husbandry practices may act as potential drivers for pathogen emergence and transmission among wildlife, livestock and humans.1,6 Although some wild species are well known reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens, this fact seems to have no effect on their trade. Several species of bats maintain the sylvatic cycle of rabies in the Amazon, and many of them are commonly hunted, traded and consumed for medicinal purposes in Bolivia.5,13,14 Pet monkeys have been involved in rabies transmission to humans, and psittacosis is reported in people handling confiscated parrots.3,5,10,14 Here we report the isolation of zoonotic enterobacteria and avian paramyxovirus from live animals sold at wet markets in Peru. The identification of these pathogens provides evidence of the health risks wildlife trade may pose in South America, and stresses the need for effective policies and controls to protect both public and animal health. Conservation of endangered species will also benefit from limits to this trade.

Literature Cited

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13.  Salmón-Mulanovich G, Vásquez A, Albújar C, Guevara C, Laguna-Torres A, Salazar M, Zamalloa H, Cáceres M, Gómez-Benavides J, Pacheco V, Contreras C, Kochel T, Niezgoda M, Jackson FR, Velasco-Villa A, Rupprecht C, Montgomery JM. Human rabies and rabies in vampire and non-vampire bat species, southeastern Peru, 2007. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009;15:1308–1310.

14.  Schneider MC, Belotto A, Leanes LF, Correa E, Tamayo H, Medina G, Rodrigues MJ. Epidemiologic situation of human rabies in Latin America in 2004. Epidemiol Bull. 2005;26:2–4.


Speaker Information
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A. Patricia Mendoza, DVM, CEID
Wildlife Conservation Society
Lima, Peru

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