shipment and exposure contacts. At the time that the first human cases were being examined, the extent of the problem in animals was not understood, nor was it known that exposure to prairie dogs (and only prairie dogs) would turn out to be central to human cases. Also not known, at that time or at present, was the susceptibility of various animal species to monkeypox infection. Vendors of exotic companion animals often keep an impressive variety of species, many of which could have been susceptible. Once a definitive diagnosis was made, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took a lead role in notifying regulatory officials of the outbreak.

On June 11, 2003, CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint order that announced an immediate embargo on the importation of rodents from Africa and banned any sale, offering for distribution, transport, or release into the environment of prairie dogs and six genera of African rodents potentially involved in the spread of monkeypox in the United States (CDC, 2003b). CDC has jurisdiction over the importation section of the rule, while FDA has jurisdiction over movement of animals between and within states. On November 4, 2003, the joint order was replaced by an interim final rule that maintains the bans on importation of these rodents and their sale or distribution. These actions were taken by the Department of Health and Human Services under the authority granted in Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 264). Section 361 grants the Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to make and enforce regulations to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable disease from foreign countries into the United States or from one state to another. States are free, within their legal authority, to enact other regulations as long as those regulations do not conflict with the interim final rule. Enforcement of this rule relies on the CDC and FDA working collaboratively with other federal and state agencies. Many federal, state, and local agencies have authorities related to the animals involved, including the USDA and state departments of agriculture, which oversee the trade in these animals within the United States; and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security and the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior, which have statutory authority for enforcing importation embargos. The interim final rule addresses many of the issues surrounding importation and movement of exotic rodents into and within the United States. However, it does not ban the importation of all exotic animals.

The monkeypox outbreak revealed that:

  • The infrastructure that exists for preventing animal disease outbreaks is focused primarily on livestock, including poultry and farmed

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