Yesterday the Bulgarian National Veterinary Service (NVS) announced the interception of a number of illegally transported birds and animals destined for local zoos. An except from a much longer (translated) statement posted on their website:
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Illegal transport of animals in zoos in Bulgaria
On 20/02/2018, the illegal transport of zoo animals for Bulgaria was stopped at checkpoint "Danube Bridge II". Animal species: alpaca, teddy bears plus birds - geese, ducks, pigeons and ducks are transported in extremely poor conditions are not met any requirements for welfare during transport and are not accompanied by veterinary documents to certify their origin and health status.
The carrier shall not transport license required knowledge for the transport of animals and documents that certify the origin im.Po his statements animals were taken from Belgium, Slovakia and Hungary.
Today the Bulgarian NVS has announced that at least two birds illegally brought into the country (presumably linked to the above story) have tested positive for `avian flu', and that the Sofia Zoo has been put under quarantine.
After the destruction of the 119 birds found in transport, transporting illegal animals and birds, the Regional Directorate for Food Safety - Sofia city grant for study by the National Reference Laboratory for avian influenza and Newcastle disease samples from the euthanized specimens.
Initial studies have shown the presence of bird flu in two of the birds - a swan and duck. The final results for the strain of the disease will be announced within days.
Under the Animal Veterinary Act Zoo park Sofia has been quarantined..(Continue . . . )
In this regard, the executive director of the Bulgarian Agency for Food Safety ordered the following:
Pursuant to Art. 126, para. 1 and Art. 117, para. 1, p. 1, 2 and 7 of the veterinary activity in relation to the obtained positive for the M gene of avian influenza "laboratory result of the National Referral Laboratory for" Avian "A" and Newcastle disease "to NDRVI with protocol of test ref. ADI № 02-646 / 02.27.2018, the sample taken from the confiscated animals protocol order № 1 / 20.02.2018, the outgoing and № 475 / 20.02.2018, the RIEW Montana and placed in holding reg. № 1407-044, garden- Sofia Zoo, located in the town. Sofia municipality. Sofia., Sofia-city,
N A R E W D M A:
I. Director RFSDs-c. Sofia city to organize the implementation of these measures to eradicate and contain the spread of avian influenza:
II. For the implementation of activities under item. I, t. 1-6 to submit weekly report to the Directorate "Health and welfare, and feed control" at the HQ of NVS an email. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Foreclosure of movement of poultry to and from Sofia Zoo garden-.
- Foreclosure of movement of eggs, poultry feed, litter, manure from poultry equipment used in the facility and having contact with birds from the Zoo garden- Sofia.
- Close and bring indoors in flocks of bird species for which it is possible to prevent contact with wild birds.
- Strengthening biosecurity measures and storage of all feed to feed the birds indoors.
- Organization of clinical examination of birds found in the Zoo garden- Sofia.
- Organization of taking fecal samples from all aviaries and premises where birds are kept in the facility.
- Imposition of ban on access by unauthorized persons to garden- Sofia Zoo, until measures under p. 1-6.
Although it doesn't get as much press as it deserves, the illegal transport and trade in wild animals, birds, and even `bushmeat' poses a significant danger to both public health and agricultural security all over the world.
The lengths that some people will go to move these animals, birds, and goods across international borders sometimes staggers the imagination, but for many of these items - particularly from endangered species - the profit margins can be huge.
A few notable examples I've blogged over the past decade include:
- In 2015's A Quail Of A Tale the U.S. Customs Agency intercepted 26 pounds of raw quail eggs at Boston's Logan Airport in the luggage of a traveler from Vietnam, who declared the items, apparently unaware of the danger they posed.
- In May of 2013, in All Too Frequent Flyers, we saw a Vietnamese passenger, on a flight into Dulles Airport, who was caught with 20 raw Chinese Silkie Chickens in his luggage.
- The following month we saw a traveler (see Vienna: 5 Smuggled Birds Now Reported Positive For H5N1) attempt to smuggle 60 live birds into Austria from Bali, only to have 39 die in transit, and five test positive for H5N1. Fortunately, no humans were infected.
- In 2012, in Taiwan Seizes H5N1 Infected Birds, we learned of a smuggler who was detained at Taoyuan international airport in Taiwan after arriving from Macau with dozens of infected birds. Nine people exposed to these birds were observed for 10 days, and luckily none showed signs of infection.
- In 2011, in Bushmeat,`Wild Flavor’ & EIDs, we looked at the illegal trade in exotic food, including bats, monkeys, large rats, crocodiles, small antelopes and pangolins.
- And most audacious of all, in 2010 two men were indicted for attempting to smuggle dozens of song birds (strapped to their legs inside their pants) into LAX from Vietnam (see Man who smuggled live birds strapped to legs faces 20 years in prison).
It has been estimated that as much as three-quarters of human diseases originated in other animal species, and there are undoubtedly more out there, just waiting for an opportunity to jump to a new host.
Add in the threat from importing (and releasing) invasive species, agricultural diseases like Rift Valley Fever, FMD, or any number of plant diseases, and the damage that these illegal smuggling operations can do is incalculable.Sadly, the role of `wild flavor’ cuisine in the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic in China and the introduction of HIV to humans via the hunting of bushmeat in Africa, are lessons we have yet to fully take to heart.