Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has issued an order to impose a temporary ban on the import of all types of rodents and non-human primates such as monkeys from the countries in the African continent.
The move is part of the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of monkeypox virus following a directive from the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the WHO fact sheet on the virus, monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus.
The virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions.
The fact sheet underlined the need to put restrictions on animal trade to prevent the spread of the virus.
The WHO noted that some countries have put in place regulations restricting import of rodents and non-human primates.
“Captive animals that are potentially infected with monkeypox should be isolated from other animals and placed into immediate quarantine.
“Any animals that might have come into contact with an infected animal should be quarantined, handled with standard precautions and observed for monkeypox symptoms for 30 days,” it pointed out.
The ministry has sent a letter to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, regarding the information leaflet from the World Organization for Animal Health, on the monkeypox virus, which states that the virus is endemic in central and western African countries.
In the scientific zoological classification, primates include all species belonging to lemurs and apes in addition to humans.
Primates live all over the world, and apart from humans, the remaining primates are concentrated in Africa, South and Central America, and southern Asia, as well as a few species in North America and Japan.