U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists seized 100 porcupine quills at Washington Dulles International Airport on April 22.
The 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. The following day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 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. According to the CDC, 47 confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox were reported from six states—Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Investigators determined that a shipment of animals from Ghana, imported to Texas on April 9, 2003, introduced monkeypox virus.
Following that monkeypox virus outbreak, the CDC prohibited the importation of all African rodents into the United States, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale, distribution, transport, or release into the environment of prairie dogs and six specific genera of African rodents within the United States
CBP released the traveler and turned the quills over to the CDC.