By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

100 porcupine quills, which may pose an animal and human virus threat, were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Dulles Airport last week.


CBP officers referred a U.S. citizen, who arrived on a flight from Africa on April 21, to a secondary examination after the traveler declared possessing an animal horn. An agriculture examination also discovered an ivory bottle opener and the 100 porcupine quills. On April 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised CBP to seize the quills as a potential vector for the monkeypox virus.

The United States last experienced a monkeypox virus outbreak in 2003 (LISTEN HERE).

CBP released the traveler and turned the quills over to the CDC.

“Travelers should be aware that those seemingly safe animal souvenirs they purchase overseas may accidentally introduce animal diseases that could devastate our livestock industries, sicken our citizens, and impact our nation’s economy,” stated Keith Fleming, acting director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “Customs and Border Protection remains on our nation’s frontline as protectors of our agricultural resources, and we will continue to work with our partners to intercept all potential threats at our nation’s ports of entry.”

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that does not spread easily between people. It is usually a mild self-limiting illness and most people recover within a few weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.

Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body. The rash changes and goes through different stages before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.

The infection can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person; however there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.