Live animal trade is considered a major mode of introduction of viruses from enzootic foci into disease-free areas. Due to societal and behavioural changes, some wild animal species may nowadays be considered as pet species. The species diversity of animals involved in international trade is thus increasing. This could benefit pathogens that have a broad host range such as arboviruses. The objective of this study was to analyze the risk posed by live animal imports for the introduction, in the European Union (EU), of four arboviruses that affect human and horses: Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis and Japanese encephalitis. Importation data for a five-years period (2005-2009, extracted from the EU TRACES database), environmental data (used as a proxy for the presence of vectors) and horses and human population density data (impacting the occurrence of clinical cases) were combined to derive spatially explicit risk indicators for virus introduction and for the potential consequences of such introductions. Results showed the existence of hotspots where the introduction risk was the highest in Belgium, in the Netherlands and in the north of Italy. This risk was higher for Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE) than for the three other diseases. It was mainly attributed to exotic pet species such as rodents, reptiles or cage birds, imported in small-sized containments from a wide variety of geographic origins. The increasing species and origin diversity of these animals may have in the future a strong impact on the risk of introduction of arboviruses in the EU.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)