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  1. #1
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    HIV-Related Virus Strain Found in Illegally Imported Meat


    APRIL 14, 2010

    Bushmeat Presents Latest Food Scare

    Researchers Find Strains of a Virus Related to HIV in Illegal Imports of Primate Flesh, a Delicacy to Some Africans

    Researchers testing bushmeat smuggled into the U.S. have found strains of a virus in the same family as HIV, according to preliminary findings to be released Wednesday.

    For years, authorities have tried to crack down on the smuggling of meat from certain animals, such as bats, monkeys and rodents, which some people consider a food delicacy.

    In 2008, the Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit which runs many of New York City's zoos, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined forces to test illegally imported meat entering the New York City area from West Africa for dangerous diseases such as monkey pox, the virus that causes SARS and retroviruses such as HIV.

    Preliminary findings will be presented at Rockefeller University in New York on Wednesday.

    Scientists found two strains of simian foamy virus, commonly found in nonhuman primates, from three species—two mangabeys and a chimpanzee—in bushmeat.

    Bushmeat Scare

    Preliminary findings of tests on illegally imported meat entering the New York City area from West Africa for dangerous diseases such as monkey pox, the virus that causes SARS and retroviruses such as HIV, will be presented at Rockefeller University in New York on Wednesday

    The virus can infect humans but hasn't been conclusively linked to known diseases. However, the related simian immunodeficiency virus has been found in bushmeat tested outside of the country and is considered responsible for the first cases of HIV by scientists.

    Bushmeat, often cured or smoked, has entered the U.S. through the mail and in shipping containers.

    Smugglers also resort to packing smoked monkey or cane rat in personal suitcases. A fraction of the bushmeat coming into the New York City area is seized at the border by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and hundreds of samples from at least 14 species have been sent to be studied.

    "We get these big boxes of meat," said Kristine Smith, a wildlife veterinarian who is conducting the study for the Wildlife Conservation Society. "Sometimes you see primate heads or hands in there."

    Estimates on the size of the bushmeat trade vary wildly. The Fish and Wildlife Service and Custom's and Border Protection keep statistics on illegal meat entering the country but do not break it down into a bushmeat category.

    "We don't have any evidence to suggest that the U.S., in terms of volume, is a large market based on our seizures," said Sandra Cleva, spokesperson for Fish and Wildlife Service's law enforcement. "From a health perspective, it's always a concern."

    The meat is highly valued in some immigrant communities, notably among West Africans, said Richard Ruggiero, who works on international bushmeat issues for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

    It is like "any other illegal commodity," Mr. Ruggiero said. "It's a clandestine industry. They sell it in clandestine networks." He added that many of the smuggled meats are from endangered species.

    "In Africa today, many wildlife populations are being eaten to extinction," Mr. Ruggiero said. "The greatest impact to wildlife populations in Africa is the bushmeat trade."

    Rodents and bats are being eaten because many of the larger species have already been killed off. Local markets for meat can sometimes be sustainable but even national markets in African countries can have dire affects on wildlife.

    He added, "In former times, people would hunt around their village and consume most of the bushmeat or sell it to neighbors. In today's world, we have transportation in and out of previously impenetrable forests."

    Fines for importing bushmeat are low and there have been few prosecutions for selling it. In December, Mamie Manneh, a Liberian immigrant who lives on Staten Island, was sentenced to probation by a New York federal court for smuggling and selling monkey meat.

    The danger to Americans lies in the possibility of a disease entering through smuggled animals and meat such as a monkey pox outbreak in 2003 that the Center for Disease Control traced to African rodents.

    Scientists from the CDC said there are many cases of diseases transmitted through handling meat. Cooking meat kills many food borne pathogens such as salmonella, though some diseases carried by animals are not killed in the cooking process.

    "We do know that looking at products at the airports there is no quality control on bushmeat," said Nina Marano, a scientist at the CDC.

    "People will claim it's smoked or it's dried but we have pulled samples out of packages with meat on the bone, juice in the bag, still bloody." ... 98780.html
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  2. #2
    Senior Member florgal's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    North Carolina

  3. #3
    Senior Member judyweller's Avatar
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    May 2008
    Maryland, Alleghany County
    What do you expect when we let immigrants, illegal aliens, and refugees from Africa where they eat that stuff live in our country?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie
    HUGE cultural disconnect.
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