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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 25, 19 June 2003

Citation style for this article: European Commission bans import of prairie dogs from the US and rodents and squirrels from sub-Saharan Africa. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(25):pii=2243. Available online:

European Commission bans import of prairie dogs from the US and rodents and squirrels from sub-Saharan Africa

Editorial team (, Eurosurveillance editorial office.

The European Union standing committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health has agreed to ban the import of prairie dogs (Cynomys sp.) from the United States, and rodents of non-domestic species and squirrels from sub-Saharan Africa because of the risk of monkeypox (1). The decision will be adopted by the European Commission.

To date, 93 cases of human monkeypox linked with exposure to prairie dogs and other small mammals have been reported in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin in the US (2). Investigations to trace the source of the outbreak have identified a common distributor where prairie dogs and Gambian giant rats (shipped from Ghana) were housed together in Illinois (3).

In the US an embargo has been placed on the importation of all rodents from Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are prohibiting the transportation or offering for transportation in interstate commerce, or the sale, offering for sale, or offering for any other type of commercial or public distribution, including release into the environment, of prairie dogs and the following rodents from Africa: tree squirrels, rope squirrels, dormice, Gambian giant pouched rats, brush-tailed porcupines, and striped mice (3). Individual States in the US already have powers to prohibit the importation, sale, distribution, or display of animals that could result in transmission of infectious agents.

  1. European Commission. Monkey Pox virus: Commission bans the import prairie dogs and rodents that could carry the disease. Press release Midday Express 16 June 2003. (
  2. CDC. Monkeypox Report of Cases in the United States case count, 18 June 2003. (
  3. CDC. Multistate outbreak of Monkeypox - Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, 2003. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2003; 52: 537-40. (

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