Some exotic pets are going to be harder to get because of the outbreak of Monkeypox. The government is banning the sale of prairie dogs. And it's also putting a stop to the importation of African rodents. The Agriculture Department will be in charge of enforcing the prairie dog ban.
Monkeypox spread to people from pet prairie dogs after apparently originating with a rat imported from Africa. Monkeypox isn't the same as Smallpox, but it is a relative. So federal health officials say anybody who may have been exposed to Monkeypox can get a Smallpox vaccine.
There are nine confirmed cases in the Midwest of the disease, which is making its first appearance in this hemisphere. There are no suspected cases in Texas, and there is no reason to believe that West Texas' prairie dog or human populations are currently at risk.
The City of Lubbock Health Department discourages current owners of prairie dogs to release the animals into the environment. Though the risk if illness is low, if prairie dog owners no longer wish to keep their animals, please contact City of Lubbock Animal Control for proper transport of the animal.
For more information, contact Ken Condon, Epidemiologist at (806) 775-2917, or Tigi Ward, Public Health Coordinator - Surveillance at (806) 775-2941.
Animal Control can be reached at (806) 775-2712.