Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Louisville pet stores told to quarantine



The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - State officials have ordered five pet stores to quarantine animals from a Chicago-area distributor believed to have been the source of an outbreak of monkeypox.

Neither human nor animal cases of the disease are suspected in Kentucky, state officials said.

The five pet stores had received shipments of chinchillas, rabbits, squirrels and other animals from the distributor, said Jim Lane of the Fish and Wildlife Resources Department.

The stores did not receive prairie dogs, which investigators suspect transmitted the virus to people in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.

Monkeypox is a smallpox-related virus that has never before appeared in the Western Hemisphere.

The disease has caused rashes, fevers and chills in people across the upper Midwest since early May.

The virus previously had been found in West Africa, where the human death rate has ranged from 1 percent to 10 percent, health officials said.

In the U.S. outbreak, victims have caught the virus through close contact with sick animals.

Most handled the animals and were bitten or had breaks in their skin.

State health officials have reported suspected cases in Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

Lane said the agency will ban importation of rodents, rabbits and primates from other states "until this thing shakes out or until we know more about the disease and what it's doing."




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