Urge the USDA to Take TB-Positive Elephants off the Road!

Elephants who have tested positive for tuberculosis
(TB)
are currently crisscrossing the country and being forced to perform in circuses
despite their fragile health and the very real risk of transmission to humans
and other elephants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is
responsible for adopting and implementing new regulations to protect animals,
yet even though the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA)—one of the
foremost organizations in the country aiming to prevent, control, and eliminate
disease—recommended increased precautions regarding elephants with TB in 2010 and introduced even further
recommendations earlier this year, the USDA has failed to adopt them.

The Elephant Tuberculosis Subcommittee of the USAHA is
charged with developing and recommending science-based resolutions and regulations.
In 2010, it released guidelines that include testing requirements, restrictions
on the transport of TB-positive elephants, and a recommendation that contact
with the public be eliminated or restricted where transmission is possible.

The USDA expressed its intent to adopt these standards
in November 2010—yet to date, no action in this direction has been taken.

State governments and other officials look to the USDA
to make decisions about these matters, and it is now up to the public to urge
the USDA to adopt the recommendations for the control of TB in elephants
without delay. As explained in a 2011 Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention report,
direct contact with a TB-positive elephant is not necessary for
transmission of the disease to humans. Indeed, tuberculosis carried by an
elephant was recently linked to an outbreak in Tennessee among nine humans,
some of whom had no direct contact with the elephant
.

Circuses will continue to keep these animals on the
road until forced to do otherwise by the USDA. Please take a moment now to
urge the USDA to protect public health and animal welfare by adopting the
USAHA’s updated elephant TB guidelines without further delay.
Feel free to
use the form letter below, but remember that personalization helps ensure that
your message is read. Public comments are highly regarded, and officials listen
to them when making decisions, so please also forward this alert to anyone who
cares about animal welfare or public health!

Message

Dear [Decision Maker],

I am writing to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to adopt the United States Animal Health Association’s (USAHA) 2010 Guidelines for the Control of Tuberculosis in Elephants without further delay in order to protect both animal and human health. Despite having expressed its intent to adopt the updated standards more than a year and a half ago, the USDA has taken no action, even as numerous elephants known to carry a form of tuberculosis (TB) that is highly transmissible to humans are currently crisscrossing the country and performing with circuses.

I am concerned that the USDA is abdicating its responsibility to implement new regulations in the best interest of animals while underwriting the abuse of animals afflicted with this potentially fatal disease and endangering the health of both the public and other animals. This is very disturbing given the known risk of transmission from elephants to humans, even without direct contact.

As experts have recognized, stress influences both susceptibility to TB and its severity once infection is established. Thus, keeping elephants in cramped, filthy transport vehicles with poor ventilation for often days at a time while chained, as circuses routinely do, can increase the risk of TB transmission astronomically.

I understand that the USAHA recently circulated proposed revisions to its 2010 guidelines. When formalized, any revisions should be taken into consideration, but the proposed revisions are not a reason to further delay adoption of the 2010 guidelines.

I strongly urge the USDA to immediately adopt the 2010 recommendations made by the USAHA Elephant Tuberculosis Subcommittee. It is crucial for the health of both humans and animals to restrict the travel of and quarantine animals who have been exposed to and/or tested reactive for TB. The time has come for the USDA to take proactive steps to prevent the spread of TB and to protect the welfare of elephants suffering from the disease.

Thank you for your attention to this serious issue. May I please hear back from you that you are adopting these regulations soon?

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

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Article source: PETA Action Alerts

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