|Prairie dogs belong on a prairie. It is suspected that captive prairie dogs for sale as pets led to the recent outbreak of monkeypox. USFWS|
Jeffrey Doth of International Exotic Wildlife in Houston, Texas is in trouble again. In April, Doth shipped approximately 800 small mammals of nine different species from Ghana to the United States. A number of these animals were carriers of monkeypox.
Follow the trail…. According to the analysis of Dr. Ostroff of the Centers for Disease Control and others, Gambian giant rats were imported legally from Ghana to Texas and then sold to a distributor in Iowa who, in turn, sold them to a distributor in Chicago (Phil's Pocket Pets of Villa Park). There, the Gambian giant rats were housed with prairie dogs and apparently transmitted the disease to them. These prairie dogs were ultimately sold as pets. The disease spread could be enormously vast, however, as Dr. Ostroff notes: "These animals were then widely distributed within the United States and some were even re-exported to Japan."
In addition to the monkeypox debacle, Doth's rap sheet includes getting caught twice for illegal international smuggling of wildlife in a two year period. Then, while supposedly under house arrest in Texas, he went to Florida to receive a wildlife shipment, but he didn't have the proper state license or permits—and the transport boxes happened to contain cocaine in addition to reptiles (see Winter 2002 AWI Quarterly).
One wonders what trouble Doth will get into next.