Research – Zoonotic Pathogens in Wildlife Traded in Markets for Human Consumption, Laos



We tested animals from wildlife trade sites in Laos for the presence of zoonotic pathogens. Leptospira spp. were the most frequently detected infectious agents, found in 20.1% of animals. Rickettsia typhi and R. felis were also detected. These findings suggest a substantial risk for exposure through handling and consumption of wild animal meat.

Consumption of wildlife meat drives emerging infectious diseases , often amplified by human encroachment into natural areas and changes in land use. Wildlife trade and consumption have been responsible for outbreaks of diseases such as HIV-1 , Ebola , and monkeypox and possibly for the coronavirus disease pandemic . Wildlife markets bring diverse species into contact, usually in dense and unsanitary conditions, enabling mixing, amplification, and transmission of pathogens among species, including humans . Small mammals host diverse pathogenic bacteria and viruses , but little investigation of endemic bacteria transmission has occurred. Determining pathogens present in traded wildlife is vital to guide appropriate measures to combat zoonotic diseases and document societal and environmental costs of wildlife trade.

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