& Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has announced an
immediate embargo on the importation of all rodents from Africa
due to the potential that these rodents can spread monkeypox virus
infection to other animal species and to humans.
addition, the secretary also announced a ban within the United States
on the distribution, sale and transport of prairie dogs and six
specific African rodent species implicated in the current monkeypox
action, issued in accordance with regulations provided under the
Public Health Service Act, will remain in effect until further notice.
current outbreak of monkeypox in humans has the potential to pose
a threat to public health in the United States," Thompson said.
"Today's action is an important step we must take in order
to help prevent further spread of this virus."
order prohibits the importation of all rodents from Africa. In addition,
it prohibits within the United States the distribution, sale, transportation
and intentional release into the environment of prairie dogs and
the following rodent species: tree squirrels (Sciurus); rope squirrels
(Funisciurus); dormices (Graphiurus); Gambian giant pouched rats
(Cricetomys gambianus); brush-tailed porcupines (Atherurus africanus);
and striped mice (Typomys).
also is advising individuals who have acquired an animal named in
the order since April 15 to carefully monitor their own health and
the health of the animal. Should an individual exhibit symptoms,
such as a rash accompanied by a fever, cough or aches, or become
ill, they should immediately contact a physician. Should an animal
become ill, individuals should immediately contact a veterinarian,
contain the animal in an appropriate carrier and transport it to
the veterinarian without other people or pets in the vehicle. Under
no circumstances should such animals be intentionally released into
ban implemented today does not apply to individuals who transport
listed animals to veterinarians, animal control officials or other
entities recommended by federal, state, or local government authorities.
has determined, under its authority in the Public Health Service
Act, that the current monkeypox outbreak is an interstate problem
that requires the use of this federal authority.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the authority to
implement and enforce the foreign importation embargo. Both
CDC and the Food and Drug Administration have shared authority for
implementing and enforcing the ban on distribution, sale and transport
of these animals within the United States. FDA and CDC will work
jointly, along with other federal agencies, to enforce these public
is working with state and local health departments to investigate
an outbreak of monkeypox in persons who have had contact with prairie
dogs. These prairie dogs, sold to individuals as pets, most likely
became infected with monkeypox at a dealer after being exposed to
rodents imported from Africa.
rodent species were imported from Africa and have since been sold
in the United States. CDC is investigating which species of rodents
imported from Africa may be playing a role in this outbreak. As
of June 11, 2003, 54 cases of monkeypox were under investigation
in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and New Jersey.