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African "Bush Meat" could bring deadly new viruses to US.


African immigrants are bringing illegal bush meat into the United States. Some of which contains deadly viruses.

From Sydney Morning Herald…

BLOODY, raw, smoked or dried, untold thousands of pounds of monkey parts, giant African cane rats and other illegal ”bush meat” slips into the United States each year.

For some of Washington’s African residents, the meat is a taste of home, a treat for the holidays and reunions.

”It’s a delicacy, for special occasions,” said Sambourou Diop, a Gabonese national living in the region, who sampled bush meat in his West African homeland but has not eaten it in the US.
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For America’s disease detectives, though, bloody bags of wild meat could mean trouble.

They’re so worried about exotic viruses causing a deadly outbreak or, in the worst case, an AIDS-like pandemic, that after a two-year pilot study the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have launched an expanded effort to test confiscated bush meat for potentially dangerous viruses.

The virus that causes AIDS jumped from chimpanzees to humans at least three times early in the 20th century, sparking a worldwide crisis that has killed at least 25 million people. And in 2003, an unknown virus leapt from bats to civet cats to people in south-west China. The virus then spread to 29 countries and killed at least 774 people. It was dubbed SARS, for severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Infectious disease experts are convinced those two viruses moved into humans via the butchering, handling and eating of infected meat. ”We’re in the dark with risks,” said Kristine Smith of the non-profit EcoHealth Alliance. ”We know there are risks out there, but we aren’t able to quantify them.”