US public not warned that monkeys imported from Cambodia carry deadly pathogens | USA news

Animal activists are urging the U.S. government to stop importing non-human primates for laboratory use, following documents from the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealing deadly pathogenic agents, zoonotic bacteria and viruses—including one of them. risk of bioterrorism – entered the country with monkeys imported from Asia between 2018 and 2021.

Documents Obtained by Persons for Ethical Treatment animals (Peta) and a case report from the American Association for Animal Science Laboratory, seen only by the Guardian, reveals that there have been six cases of Burkholderia pseudomallei detected in primates imported from Cambodia into the United States.

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Peta wrote a letter to the CDC urging them to immediately cease imports of all non-human primates for the protection of U.S. residents, the integrity of science, and the welfare of animals and their ecosystems.

Endemic to Southeast Asia, B pseudomallei causes melioidosis, a rare but potentially fatal disease in humans, usually caused by contact with the pathogen in soil or water. It has a mortality rate of up to 50% and according to the CDC, B pseudomallei is a “Tier 1 select representative” It has the potential to be a bioterrorism agent.

Peta’s senior science adviser, Dr Lisa Jones-Engel, told the Guardian: “There is no indication that the CDC or the research industries are transparent to the public about these diseased monkeys.”

“Case Report”, published last weekMelioidosis in a Cynomolgus Macaque Imported into the United States from Cambodia” reveals that one of the macaques entered the US by air from Cambodia along with 359 other macaques, and was diagnosed with B pseudomallei in quarantine in Texas in January 2021. Imported non-human primates, or NHPs, are in the CDC mandatory quarantine for 31 days while testing for infectious diseases.

The macaque was euthanized due to concerns about zoonotic contamination and possible introduction of this Tier 1 selective agent into the environment. The report reveals that the other 359 monkeys sent with the infected monkey “appeared healthy at the end of the quarantine period and were released from the CDC-mandated quarantine.”

However, asymptomatic infected animals may shed B pseudomallei into the environment. Jones-Engel said: “Maps imported from Asia can harbor the Burkholderia pathogen for months and shed the bacteria into the environment through feces, urine, blood, and saliva. The CDC knew of the danger to humans and failed to alert the public.”

The report confirms that imports of animals infected with B pseudomallei can introduce the organism into the United States, stating: “Being vigilant to prevent transmission via imported animals is crucial.” Currently, melioidosis is not a notifiable disease, although the report authors recommend that this be considered.

The report identified five more macaques from Cambodia that had been diagnosed with B pseudomallei in separate shipments, one during the quarantine and four months after coming out of the quarantine.

Direct transmission of the disease from animals to humans is rare but can occur. There are about 12 human cases per year in the US, mostly among travelers to Asia or northern Australia.

However, on the same day on July 27, 2022, Peta received a response to a freedom of information law request. CDC released A warning about the presence of B pseudomallei in the Mississippi Delta environment. It was detected in soil and water for the first time in the US, and comes after two people in the state of Mississippi were diagnosed with melioidosis, one in 2020 and the other in 2022. recovered.

Documents released by the CDC in July reveal that the increase in imported primates since 2019 has been accompanied by an increase in monkeys arriving with other zoonotic pathogens, including tuberculosis, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Y entercolitica, campylobacter, malaria and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. “consistent with filovirus infection”. Filoviruses include Ebola and Marburg viruses. Both are Tier 1 selection agents.

The number of primates that died on arrival rose from two in 2017 to 11 in 2021, and the number of monkeys that died in quarantine rose from 29 to 125. The number of primates who became ill but recovered and released increased by 2,280% from five to 119 in 2021, and the overall mortality rate increased from 31 to 136 in five years.

Action for Primates’ veterinary consultant, Dr. Nedim Büyükmihci told the Guardian: “Non-human primates in a free-living state are unlikely to infect humans. But when trapped, transported or imprisoned, they become quite troublesome and can shed disease-causing organisms. These data highlight the potentially significant public health risk of transporting and using non-human primates in laboratories.”

Natives of Southeast Asia, long-tailed macaques are the most trafficked primates for use in laboratories and are currently partly endangered due to their exploitation by the research industry.

Historically, China exported most of the macaques to the US, but stopped trading during the coronavirus pandemic. This, combined with increased demand from the research industry, has resulted in increased exports of wild and farmed monkeys from Cambodia, Mauritius and Vietnam and the resumption of trade from Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines. trappers in indonesia was filmed inflicting violence on wild macaques during their capture.

The number of macaques exported from Cambodia to the US in recent years has more than tripled from 5,851 in 2018 to 18,870 in 2021. The US is the world’s largest importer of primates and the only country to legally import wild macaques since 2014. .

Jones-Engel said: “The increase in diseases in the NHP is potentially the result of an increase in wild-caught monkeys introduced into and/or exported from monkey farms.”

Long-tailed macaques toxicity test to determine the adverse effects of drugs or chemicals. Restricted monkeys are dosed without anesthesia by injection, infusion, or through a tube forced into their stomach. Dosing may take months or years with side effects such as pain, chills, vomiting, internal bleeding, and death.

fans They say there will be no drug production without research on animals. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that animal testing has had an effect. 92% failure rate of predicting the safety or efficacy of pharmaceuticals in humans.

There are eight monkey farms in Cambodia. However, the industry came under scrutiny in November of this year when federal prosecutors indicted eight members of a primate smuggling ring for their role in laundering 3,000 endangered wild macaques from Cambodia to US commercial exporters. The US justice department indictment accuses two wildlife officials of the Cambodian government and the owner and employees of Vanny Bio Resources, a macaque supplier in Cambodia. The indictment includes two unnamed collaborators based in Alice, Texas and Miami in the US.

The CDC had previously said that Cambodia was suspending primate exports to the United States.

“Primate experiments in the US are part of the global wildlife trade in endangered species,” Jones-Engel said. Said. “It’s indescribably cruel and a significant threat to public health. It must end,” said Dr. Jones-Engel.

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