Importing Disease via the Exotics Trade

Janet Ginsburg's article was timely, informative, and sobering.1 It confirms my worst fears, after 10 years of work in a futile effort to reform the live-animal food markets in the Chinatowns of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, and elsewhere. Conditions are nearly identical to those of the Chinese markets whence came the recent SARS outbreak: people living in over-crowded, unsanitary conditions cheek-to-jowl with animals of all kinds, both wild and domestic, a disaster in the making.The mark

Eric Mills
May 23, 2004
<p></p>

Janet Ginsburg's article was timely, informative, and sobering.1 It confirms my worst fears, after 10 years of work in a futile effort to reform the live-animal food markets in the Chinatowns of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, and elsewhere. Conditions are nearly identical to those of the Chinese markets whence came the recent SARS outbreak: people living in over-crowded, unsanitary conditions cheek-to-jowl with animals of all kinds, both wild and domestic, a disaster in the making.

The market problems involve environmental, public health, and horrendous animal cruelty issues. A seafood wholesaler from Oakland recently testified before the California Fish and Game Commission that she weekly imports four tons of commercially raised American bullfrogs from Taiwan for dispersal throughout the state.

Equally troubling, 100% of California market turtles (mostly red-eared sliders and spiny soft-shells) are taken from the wild in other states, extirpating local populations. Tens of thousands are shipped...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?