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Capitol Health Call
January 12, 2011

Zoonotic Disease

JAMA. 2011;305(2):139. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1904

Gaps in laws and regulations addressing the importation of live animals could allow zoonotic and animal diseases to be introduced into the United States, reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In its report to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released November 8, the GAO noted that the importation of live animals is governed by 5 principal statutes and implemented by 4 agencies: the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of the Interior. Each of the agencies focuses on a different aspect of live animal imports; no single entity has comprehensive responsibility for the zoonotic and animal disease risks posed by imported animals, said the GAO. More than 1 billion live animals were legally imported from 2005 through 2008, the report noted (http://tiny.cc/qzs3g).

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