RodentPro- Zoonotic disease warning
For several years our facility (Kentucky Reptile Zoo) purchased rodents from RodentPro. While less than completely pleased with their customer service from time to time, we did not have any major problems.
In May, three things occurred:
1. We were informed they would no longer be providing live mice after the May delivery (we met them in Louisville, about a 2 hr drive for us, so we could get live things.)
2. They did not have several hundred rats that we needed.
3. I attempted to purchase quail. I was told they were increasing their quail colony and did were not selling any. I asked if there was any way I could get 2-5 extra males, as I had one snake that would not eat anything other than quail and he was already thin. Casey flat out refused to provide even 1 quail. I was quite irritated at this - how could there not be any extra males, surely they could help out a long term customer who spends several thousand dollars per month with them??? But no, no quail for this one snake.
Due to these three things, we decided to look for rodents elsewhere.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I received a call from the epidemiologist for our county, who informed me of the following:
1. The CDC was looking for people who had purchased rodents from Rodent Pro, particularly in May of this year.
2. Rodent Pro rodents were found to be diseased with Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, which is a zoonotic disease with potentially serious consequences, especially to those who are immune suppressed and pregnant women. You can google this disease and see the CDC information about it.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF HEALTHY ADULTS WHO CONTRACT THE DISEASE RECOVER FULLY.
3. They wanted to visit us today to see our purchase records from Rodent Pro.
They did visit us today and talked to us about the situation. We are not sure if we received diseased rodents or not. We provided them with our purchase records and are supposed to be told if there is a problem within a day or so.
I am not aware of any of our employees having any health issues in relation to this situation. However, I do not yet know if we will need to discard any live rodents that we have and also discard any remaining frozen rodents.
I have been informed that frozen rodents pose a very small risk. However, this risk is not zero. If you purchased frozen or especially live rodents from rodentpro this spring or summer, you might want to contact your health department and find out if you should be concerned.
I AM NOT TRYING TO SCARE ANYONE UNDULY-- HOWEVER I FEEL MORALLY OBLIGATED TO NOTIFY THE COMMUNITY THE BEST I KNOW HOW.
Especially since Rodent Pro made completely zero effort to contact us about the problem. Below is the letter I am mailing to them today.
I will update as I find out more info.
Here is the letter:
"July 31, 2012
PO Box 118
Inglefield, IN 47618
Yesterday we were contacted by our local epidemiologist, who visited us today in regards to rodents from your facility carrying lymphocytic choriomeningitis. I do not yet know if any rodents we received from you were carrying this disease, but they have taken copies of our invoices from you and are supposed to contact us soon to let us know.
I’m sure that this situation is not news to you. I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and displeasure that you made absolutely zero effort to contact us to inform us of this situation. As I have learned in the past 24 hours, this disease is zoonotic and can cause serious illness, especially to those who are immune suppressed and to pregnant women. Even though the risk is low to healthy adults, I now find myself in the position of having to back track and attempt to figure out if anyone was exposed. It is absolutely unconscionable that you would allow any of your customers to continue to use and work around these animals without providing some sort of warning to them. I can not imagine what absolute lack of ethics and morals you must possess to be so lax in your professional responsibility to your customers.
If we did receive any of the diseased animals, we are going to have to euthanize and discard our entire live rodent colony, as well as discard any remaining frozen rodents that we received from you. I estimate this loss will be roughly $1000, which we can ill afford but it is better than continuing to put ourselves and our employees at risk. The monetary loss is aggravating but pales in comparison to the betrayal I feel at how you handled this situation.
Rest assured that you will never do business with us again. I tolerated the moderate quality of customer service for several years because we could get live rodents from you, but I will not do business with anyone who has proven themselves to be so utterly devoid of basic human decency.
In addition, I will be posting a copy of this letter to the Board of Inquiry on Faunaclassifieds.com. I will do this because there are probably large numbers of people who purchased rodents from you at shows. I have been told the risk of transmission from frozen rodents is very low. However, very low is not zero and these people deserve to be informed that the risk exists. Since it is clear you do not feel it is necessary to inform your customers of this risk, I will do it for you. I find that my personal morals will not be satisfied until these people are notified in some way.
Please realize that while I would have been concerned and disappointed in this situation regardless, I would have been much more understanding if you had made any effort at all to notify us of the problem when it occurred, which to my understanding was in May of 2012. I am not sure when you found out about the problem, but I know that you knew prior to today, when I am finding out about it. Large colonies of animals are by nature susceptible to disease outbreaks and this disease is present in the wild rodent population. However, dealing with such an outbreak responsibly and professionally would have gone a very long way towards preventing any potential problems that may now arise.
Kristen Wiley, Curator
Kentucky Reptile Zoo"