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Zoonosis Diseases That Jump Between Animals and Humans

Zoonosis Diseases That Jump Between Animals and Humans

 

Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome

 

Perhaps this could explain the Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome and why exotic cat owners are often psychotic.

 

ScienceDaily (Mar. 11, 2009) — Scientists have discovered how the toxoplasmosis parasite may trigger the development of schizophrenia and other bipolar disorders.

 

The team from the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences has shown that the parasite may play a role in the development of these disorders by affecting the production of dopamine — the chemical that relays messages in the brain controlling aspects of movement, cognition and behaviour.

 

Toxoplasmosis, which is transmitted via cat faeces (found on unwashed vegetables) and raw or undercooked infected meat, is relatively common, with 10-20% of the UK population and 22% of the US population estimated to carry the parasite as cysts. Most people with the parasite are healthy, but for those who are immune-suppressed — and particularly for pregnant women — there are significant health risks that can occasionally be fatal.

 

Dr Glenn McConkey, lead researcher on the project, says: “Toxoplasmosis changes some of the chemical messages in the brain, and these changes can have an enormous effect on behaviour. Studies have shown there is a direct statistical link between incidences of schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis infection and our study is the first step in discovering why there is this link.”

 

The parasite infects the brain by forming a cyst within its cells and produces an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase, which is needed to make dopamine. Dopamine’s role in mood, sociability, attention, motivation and sleep patterns are well documented and schizophrenia has long been associated with dopamine, which is the target of all schizophrenia drugs on the market.

 

The team has recently received $250,000 (£160,000) to progress its research from the US-based Stanley Medical Research Institute, which focuses on mental health conditions and has a particular emphasis on bipolar illnesses.

 

Dr McConkey says: “It’s highly unlikely that we will find one definitive trigger for schizophrenia as there are many factors involved, but our studies will provide a clue to how toxoplasmosis infection – which is more common than you might think – can impact on the development of the condition in some individuals.

 

“In addition, the ability of the parasite to make dopamine implies a potential link with other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Tourette’s syndrome and attention deficit disorders, says Dr McConkey. “We’d like to extend our research to look at this possibility more closely.”

 

Journal reference:

 

1. Elizabeth A. Gaskell et al. A unique dual activity amino acid hydroxylase in toxoplasma gondii. PLoS One, March 11, 2009 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004801

Adapted from materials provided by University of Leeds.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090311085151.htm

Exotic pets, little disease screening: Disaster in the making

 

Chimp hugging babyBy Margaret Ebrahim and John Solomon

Associated Press — Nov. 27, 2006

WASHINGTON — Exotic animals captured in the wild are streaming into the U.S. by the millions with little or no screening for disease, leaving Americans vulnerable to a virulent outbreak that could rival a terrorist act.

Demand for such wildlife is booming as parents try to get their kids the latest pets fancied by Hollywood stars and zoos and research scientists seek to fill their cages.

More than 650 million critters — from kangaroos and kinkajous to iguanas and tropical fish — were imported legally into the United States in the past three years, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

That’s more than two for every American.

Countless more pets… are smuggled across the borders as part of a $20 billion-a-year international black market, second only to illegal drugs.

Countless more pets — along with animal parts and meats — are smuggled across the borders as part of a $20 billion-a-year international black market, second only to illegal drugs.

Most wildlife arrive in the United States with no quarantine and minimal screening for disease. The government employs just 120 full- time inspectors to record and inspect arriving wildlife. There is no requirement they be trained to detect diseases.

“A wild animal will be in the bush, and in less than a week it’s in a little girl’s bedroom,” said Darin Carroll, a disease hunter with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While exotic pets from Africa, Asia and South America can be cute and fashionable, scientists fear that bacteria and viruses they carry can jump to humans and native animals. Recent statistics raise the alarm.

From exotic animals to humans

 

Zoonotic diseases — those that jump to humans — account for three quarters of all emerging infectious threats, the CDC says. Five of the six diseases the agency regards as top threats to national security are zoonotic, and the CDC recently opened a center to better prepare and monitor such diseases.

mangy lion cubThe Journal of Internal Medicine this month estimated that 50 million people worldwide have been infected with zoonotic diseases since 2000 and as many as 78,000 have died.

U.S. experts don’t have complete totals for Americans, but partial numbers paint a serious picture:

* Hantavirus, which is carried by rodents and can cause acute respiratory problems or death, has sickened at least 317 Americans and killed at least 93 since 1996.

* More than 770 people have been sickened since 2000 with tularemia, a virulent disease that can be contracted from rabbits, hamsters and other rodents. At least three people have died. The plague, another animal-born disease, has sickened at least 22 Americans and killed at least one.

* Three transplant patients in New England died last year after receiving organs from a human donor who had been infected with the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus from a pet hamster. There have been 34 U.S. cases since 1993.

* More than 210,000 Americans were sickened between 2000 and 2004 with salmonella, and at least 89 died. Most infections come from contaminated food — but up to 5 percent have been linked to pets, especially such reptiles as iguanas and turtles. And last year, at least 30 people in 10 states were sickened with a drug-resistant form linked to hamsters and other rodent “pocket pets.”

Some of the scariest diseases to emerge since 2001 also have been tied to exotic animals: One of the first times the deadly Asian bird flu reached the West was in eagles smuggled aboard a plane to Europe. Likewise, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, is believed to have jumped to people from caged civet cats in a Chinese market. The cats are believed to have gotten the virus from bats.

Paris Hilton’s bite, other recent threats

Carroll, the disease hunter, knows the dangers well. For the past three years, he has traveled the globe tracing the origins of a monkeypox outbreak in 2003 that sickened dozens of adults and children in the U.S. Midwest.

That disease, related to smallpox, is believed to have spread to people from rodents imported from Africa as pets. While no victims died, scientists are eager to understand the disease so they can stop a future outbreak.

Another newly discovered threat involves a current rage among exotic pet owners: a small carnivorous mammal with sharp teeth called a kinkajou. The nocturnal, tree-dwelling animals originally from Central and South America’s rain forests have a dangerous bite — as Paris Hilton recently learned.

The actress used to carry her pet kinkajou named “Baby Luv” on her shoulder as she partied. This summer, Hilton landed in an emergency room when Baby Luv bit her on the arm.

Tkids hand in bear mouthhe concern about a bite is real.

In 2005, a kinkajou bit a zookeeper in England on the wrist. The keeper’s hand became infected, and she almost lost her fingers, said Dr. Paul Lawson, a University of Oklahoma microbiologist who first identified a new bacterium specific to kinkajous.

The first antibiotics doctors prescribed didn’t work, so a combination of several was used to stop the aggressive infection.

Scientists worry that most Americans are ignorant of the threats, and the government’s defenses are limited.

The scope of the problem

Though such diseases can spread to humans in many ways, the exotic pet trade is a growing concern because of its lack of government oversight and its reliance on animals caught in the wild.

The legal wildlife trade in the United States has more than doubled in the past 15 years, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Last year alone, there were more than 210 million animals imported to the US

Last year alone, there were more than 210 million animals imported to the United States for zoos, exhibitions, food, research, game ranches and pets. The imports included 203 million fish, 5.1 million amphibians, nearly 1.3 million reptiles, 259,000 birds and 87,991 mammals.

Imported mammals caught in the wild range from macaque monkeys and chinchillas to wallabies and kangaroos.

Only wild birds, primates and some cud-chewing wild animals are required to be quarantined upon arriving in the United States. The rest slip through with no disease screening, except for occasional Agriculture Department checks for ticks.

“Taking an animal from the wild and putting it in your child’s bedroom is just not a good idea,” said Paul Arguin, a CDC expert on exotic animal imports. “We just don’t know a lot about the diseases these animals carry.”

The potential diseases

The known diseases that can jump from exotic pets to humans are many:

Rodents can carry hantavirus as well as Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, which causes high fever, muscle pain and severe bleeding in humans and can lead to death.

Quarantines in 1989 and 1990 helped lead to the discovery of a new strain of the hemorrhagic disease Ebola in some primates. The primates either died or were killed.

Then there are the mystery diseases, which scientists have yet to understand.

During the 1990s, desert jumping rodents called jerboas were imported to Texas from Egypt as pets, according to Alan Green, a wildlife expert. Many new owners fell ill with a strange rash that defied treatment.

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Loopholes in screening of legal pets

Loopholes abound with legal imports, even when screening and quarantine occurs.

For instance, the thousands of monkeys that are imported each year for research from countries like China, Indonesia and Vietnam are quarantined for at least 31 days. While the monkeys are checked for tuberculosis, they aren’t tested for other diseases unless they show signs of sickness.

However, monkeys can carry dangerous viruses and bacteria that don’t make them sick but can harm people. For example, herpes B virus is a pathogen carried by 80 to 90 percent of adult macaques. The virus may not harm the macaques, but humans can be infected and suffer severe neurological damage or death.

In 1997, a 22-year-old researcher at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta died from herpes B virus weeks after a caged monkey splashed something in her eye.

Though the CDC has prohibited importation of most monkeys as pets since 1975, some macaques imported for research are now being sold on the open market.

“Whatever researchers are using and importing in great numbers is what we see in the pet trade,” said April Truitt of the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky.

The government acknowledges it doesn’t track where animals go after quarantine.

The challenge posed by illegal smuggling

Illegal trade presents another challenge. “If you can think of it, you can get it,” said Mira Leslie, a disease expert in Washington state.

lion cub in carrierSmugglers have been known to tape small tubes filled with birds on their legs to smuggle them through airports or to cut deep boxes into car seats filled with exotic wildlife to drive across the Mexican border.

Inspectors have been on heightened alert looking for smuggled birds since a man in 2004 smuggled two Crested Hawk-Eagles on a flight from Bangkok, Thailand, to Brussels, Belgium. He had wrapped them in white cloth and stuffed them into handmade, wicker tubes that he carried in a handbag.

Officials later learned that a well-known bird collector ordered the eagles for thousands of dollars. When the birds were tested, they were found to be infected with a strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus. Fortunately, no human was infected.

A bureaucratic mess

America’s defenses are a bureaucratic nightmare. Laws are outdated and no single agency is responsible for pre-empting the next outbreak.

mad exotic cat* The CDC is in charge of human health and the quarantine of imported monkeys.

* The Agriculture Department has primary responsibility for livestock health and the quarantining of wild bird imports and wild cud-chewing animals.

* The Fish and Wildlife Service is charged with stopping smuggled wildlife and enforcing laws that protect exotic and endangered species.

“The three agencies don’t work together,” said Cathy Johnson-Delaney, a veterinarian who advised the Agriculture Department during the early 1990s. “We should be screening all critters coming into the U.S. We aren’t doing this.”

The CDC’s Arguin acknowledges oversight of wildlife imports is reactive at best, noting that civet cats were banned from sale only after the SARS outbreak and the increased screening of birds occurred only after H5N1 started sweeping through Asia.

No agreement on future solutions

Jasen Shaw, president of U.S. Global Exotics, one of the largest American wildlife dealers, opposes banning exotic animal imports but acknowledges, “It doesn’t do the industry any good to have diseases slip through.”

Quarantine for all mammal imports — which are more likely to carry diseases that jump to humans — could be a solution.

Shaw said, however, that the industry would be wary of regulations that were too restrictive. Mass quarantining would be very expensive, he added.

Marshall Meyers, of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, which represents the $30-billion-a-year pet industry, advocates a risk- based system. Disease threats posed to humans by other mammals is far greater than those posed by fish, he explained, so tighter regulation on certain species might be warranted.

The CDC convened a meeting this spring to examine the lack of oversight, exploring options but making no recommendations. With no government action imminent, some support a private solution.

“We should shift the burden to importers to prove that the animal imports are safe,” said William Karesh, a zoonotic disease expert who works with the Wildlife Conservation Society. He suggests exotic importers take out insurance to foot the bill if their animals cause an outbreak.

“Why should you and I bear the cost of an outbreak when the industry makes all the money off this trade?”

What to do with an unwanted wild animal

 

- Most animal experts strongly urge Americans not to purchase exotic wildlife as pets. If you’ve already taken the plunge and are now worried about diseases or other dangers, here are some tips:

- Don’t release your pet into the wild. Most exotic pets hail from other continents and can carry diseases that can devastate native wildlife, threaten humans or proliferate and become a nuisance.

- Always wash your hands after any contact with the pets and never put them close to your face. Dangerous germs can be transmitted by air or skin contact. Other good pet practices can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Pet Web site.

- Have your pet regularly checked by a veterinarian, even if it appears healthy. Vets can screen for viruses or bacteria even when symptoms don’t appear. Every six months is a good rule. Vets also can help find new, safe homes for unwanted pets.

- Many local humane society offices have wildlife departments that can advise you about unwanted pets.

- Most local zoos are already overburdened and can’t accommodate your pet snake when it outgrows your living room.

- There are many reputable wildlife sanctuaries that will care for unwanted exotic pets. The best way to locate an accredited rescue facility is through Sanctuary Standards, the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries or the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition.

http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/general/news/story?id=2677956

mange on lion noseWhat You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You

 

The 2007 discovery of a zoonotic disease in lions illustrates how little we really know about diseases that can be transferred between wild animals and people.  The Norovirus described in this report, posted on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, describes a severe hemorrhagic enteritis which can result in a vascular collapse from the intense bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. This report documents the first case ever confirmed in lions and was only discovered when a series of cubs, born in a zoo, died from the infection.  An estimated 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic and are mainly of viral origin.  There has been so little research into zoonotic diseases that it is reckless to have close contact with animals who were never meant to come in close proximity to man.  The lion in the photo is suffering from mange and ringworm which can easily be transmitted to humans.

Exotic Pets: A disaster waiting to happen

BY AMY ELLIS NUTT
Star-Ledger Staff
Tuesday, October 03, 2006

MOUNT HOPE, Ohio — The small monkey rattled the bars of its cage, then threw pieces of food at the small crowd gathered around its metal crate. Crouching, two children giggled and reached tentatively toward the animal.

A tag on the cage identified the occupant for sale: “Java macaque, 6 years old, missing a little hair.”

What the sign did not say was this: Ninety percent of macaques are carriers of the herpes-B virus — relatively harmless to monkeys, but so virulent to humans it can liquefy the brainstem and turn the spinal cord to mush.

Ninety miles southwest of Cleveland, in the heart of Amish country, buyers and sellers had come on a recent weekend to the Mid-Ohio Exotic Animal Auction to inspect and perhaps buy creatures whose native lands were thousands of miles away.

The Java macaque (pronounced ma-KAK), along with kangaroos and cockatoos, pythons and potbellied pigs, were paraded through one of three auction rings. Beforehand, nearly all of them were available to be touched, ogled, even fed.

And many of them were potential carriers of some of the most dangerous diseases known to man.

Called zoonoses, animal-to-human diseases are becoming more widespread, say scientists, because contact between humans and wildlife is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The reasons are many: overpopulation and urbanization, as well as environmental shifts such as global warming and deforestation.

“To some extent you’re talking about leaves from a tree with these diseases — bird flu, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), West Nile and all the others,” said Richard Duhrkopf, an associate professor of biology at Baylor University and a tropical disease expert. “There are root causes: changes in habitat, changes in the distribution of animals and humans. Basically, we’re seeing jungle diseases because there aren’t any jungles left.”

An explosion in the exotic pet industry is one reason these diseases, many of them out of Africa, are showing up in U.S. towns and cities.

“It’s of great concern,” said Faye Sorhage, state public health veterinarian of New Jersey. “People who are exotic animal hobbyists don’t understand the diseases and they keep these animals in their homes. … A pet macaque? That’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

The commerce in exotic animals is a $15 billion industry worldwide, and at least 30 percent of that is with the United States, reports TRAFFIC, an England-based organization that monitors the trade. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some 38,000 mammals, 365,000 birds and 2 million live reptiles were imported into this country in 2002.

With contact comes disease. Each year about 80,000 salmonella infections are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of them acquired from lizards, snakes and turtles. Children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, are among the most vulnerable.

In 1998, a 5-month-old Wisconsin girl died of salmonella she picked up by crawling on a carpet contaminated by the droppings of the family’s pet iguana.

In 1998, a 5-month-old Wisconsin girl died of salmonella she picked up by crawling on a carpet contaminated by the droppings of the family’s pet iguana. That same year, an elderly Boston woman died from a fungal infection she acquired from her pet cockatoo.

Reptiles carry 16 diseases infectious to humans; rodents can transmit 50, and there are at least 28 that can be passed by primates — monkeys, small apes, chimpanzees and so forth.

Traded wildlife also can act as sources for disease in which mosquitoes, ticks and other insects act as intermediate carriers, passing an infection from animal to human by successive bites.

Some of the most lethal viruses, the hemorrhagic fevers, are spread this way, resulting in high death rates and disabilities for those who survive.

Some of the most lethal viruses, the hemorrhagic fevers, are spread this way, resulting in high death rates and disabilities for those who survive. For instance, about 10 percent of Rift Valley hemorrhagic fever victims suffer eye damage and may become permanently blind.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Animal Control Association, the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and the CDC all discourage the private ownership of certain exotic animals.

On the Internet, however, more than 1,000 Web sites cater to wildlife collectors. Last year the International Fund for Animal Welfare reported it had found thousands of endangered animals and animal products for sale online.

Only 15 states, among them New Jersey, prohibit keeping primates as pets, even though 26 species, many of them sold to private owners, carry simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), from which AIDS is thought to have evolved.

Macaques are particularly dangerous, because of the lethal nature of the herpes-B virus and because they can live up to 40 years, carrying the virus for their lifetime without ever showing the symptoms.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, macaques should be handled using special biohazard procedures. Any human who is bitten, scratched, sneezed or spit on while the virus is active risks infection.

“At the zoo, we treat them all as if they’re positive,” said Mike Cranfield, director of animal health, research and conservation at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. “That means we take extra precautions when cleaning them — impervious white outfit, rubber boots and a face shield.”

Asked whether he thinks macaques should ever be owned as pets, Cranfield answers quickly:

“I think it’s insane.”

If the Java macaque — one of several macaques on sale at the Ohio auction — had been a resident of a research laboratory, anyone coming into close contact would be required to wear a gown, gloves and a mask. There would be no eating or drinking, and the doors to the room housing the animals would be secured and locked.

…a rhesus macaque splashed a …student in the eye with some of its body fluids… Beth Griffin, flushed her eye with tap water …but the virus already had penetrated. Six weeks later she died.

In 1997, a rhesus macaque splashed a 22-year-old graduate student in the eye with some of its body fluids while she worked in a field station of Georgia’s Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center. The student, Beth Griffin, flushed her eye with tap water 45 minutes after the incident, but the virus already had penetrated. Six weeks later she died.

In her final days, Griffin was paralyzed and could not breathe on her own, the damage to her central nervous system irreparable.

NOT SO EXOTIC ANYMORE

While infections may be an occupational hazard of working in an animal research lab, exotic diseases also are finding their way into the general public.

Monkey pox is one of them.

A variant of smallpox, monkey pox had never before been diagnosed in the United States, but by the end of June 2003, more than 70 people in six states had been stricken with the virus, which can cause fever, chills, rash, even encephalitis in humans. Although no one ultimately died, public health experts were alarmed by how easy it was for a rare zoonotic disease to enter the country, and how quickly it spread.

The infected African rodents suspected of causing the outbreak were imported to Texas from Ghana in early April 2003. An Iowa animal dealer then bought 18 giant Gambian pouch rats and 10 African dormice, housing them next to some prairie dogs before sending them along to Phil’s Pocket Pets in Villa Park, Ill. At some point along the way, the virus jumped from the African rodents to the prairie dogs.

Unwittingly, Phil’s then sold the animals to dealers in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, where some of them were exhibited and sold at swap meets, according to a report by the CDC.

The first illness was reported in Wisconsin in mid-May. But it would take two weeks for it to be diagnosed and reported to the CDC, and another two days before the CDC made a public announcement. Although 170 CDC staffers were involved in tracing the monkey pox outbreak, dozens of prairie dogs and rats were never accounted for.

CRITICAL SHORTAGE

Like other campaigns against zoonotic diseases, inspection of exotic animal imports is hampered by a lack of personnel. As recently as August, U.S. Customs and Border Protection was advertising job openings for agriculture inspectors in 11 states and in major import hubs such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Newark.

Nearly half of all U.S. ports have no agriculture inspector at all.

According USFWS’s own statistics 120 inspectors are responsible for more than 120,000 shipments each year, but because of a lack of manpower, only about 25 percent of the shipments are actually inspected.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife also employs inspectors, but has only 18 designated ports of entry. According to the agency’s own statistics, those inspectors are responsible for more than 120,000 shipments each year, but because of a lack of manpower, only about 25 percent of the shipments are actually inspected.

Because of a patchwork of laws and multiple agencies with overlapping jurisdictions, authority over animal imports is fragmented. Concluded a 2005 report by the Institute of Medicine: “No federal agency has a mandate and mission that covers all imported animals and zoonoses.”

After the “mad cow” scare in 2003, when a Holstein in the state of Washington tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, federal officials proposed a National AnimalIdentification System — a nationwide database created by tagging private herds. The proposal is before Congress.

“With a national ID system, we can find out where a disease originated quickly and the more quickly you can trace its origins, the better off for the public and the farmer,” said en Foster, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. “If it takes months, well, that can be disastrous.”

THE BLACK MARKET

Beyond the problems associated with the legal importing of exotic animals and the tracking of domestic herds, there is the wildlife black market. Along the Texas-Mexico border t’s big business, second only to illegal drugs, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Many of the same people engaged in illegal drug smuggling take part in wildlife trafficking, authorities say. A parrot that costs $15 in Mexico can be sold for anywhere from $250 to $10,000 in the United States.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that $40 million worth of parrots cross the border annually — taped to the insides of hubcaps, floated across the Rio Grande atop inner tubes, even stuffed in women’s pantyhose.

Parrots can carry psittacosis, also known as parrot fever, a bacterial disease that can cause a flu-like illness in humans that ranges from mild to life-threatening. But along the 1,200 miles of Texas-Mexico border, there are only five wildlife inspectors for 15 official ports of entry. The rest of the border is patrolled by just two special agents.

“We don’t have the manpower, so we train customs officials to look for wildlife,” said Fish and Wildlife agent Alejandro Rodriguez. “They’re hidden in shipments of legal skins, or in boxes of engine components or even under the hoods of cars. The smugglers, they sometimes use the same routes used for drugs.”

The wildlife the Texas agents confiscate often ends up in the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. In the past, the zoo has been the recipient of spider monkeys, military macaws, jaguars, leopards, iguanas and 250 tarantulas someone tried to smuggle in under his car’s hood.

DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL

At the Mid-Ohio Exotic Animal Auction, the selection was equally varied. Most patrons appeared to be passionate about the exotic animals they’d come to buy and trade. Some professed involvement in humanitarian rescues of wildlife, others were private hobbyists, still others said they represented zoos or small roadside exhibits.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, with the three-day auction winding down, the animals moved briskly in and out of the main ring.

A female capuchin monkey sold for $6,000; a wallaby for $375, a camel for $2,750, a yak for $1,200 and a zebra pelt for $325.

Contacted by telephone a few days later, the manager of the auction conceded he was unfamiliar with concerns about the transmission of animal-borne viruses.

“I am not as informed about these diseases. We’ve never been asked about them before,” said Thurman Mullet. “I agree, when you have so many animals you should keep them out of contact. But you can get diseases anywhere you go. To my knowledge we’ve never had an outbreak.”

During a pause in the action, a man named Ben, representing the Ohio Association of Animal Owners, warned the audience that a pending state bill would require permits for owners of “dangerous or exotic animals.” He exhorted the crowd of about 600 to “stand together now or we will be no longer.”

As he stood in the main ring, next to a cage with a monkey about to be auctioned, he pleaded with the crowd.

“They want all kinds of requirements now. If this passes they’ll be confiscating our animals. They want to regulate us out of existence and we can’t let that happen.”

http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-9/1159854760126120.xml&coll=1