Animal Markets and Zoonotic Disease in the United States

Author Bonnie Nadzam

Animal industries in the United States pose serious risk of future pandemics and the U.S. government lacks a comprehensive strategy to address these threats, concludes a new study by Harvard Law School and New York University. The analysis calls for tightening existing regulations and implementing new ones in order to prevent zoonotic-driven outbreaks.

The report is the first to comprehensively map networks of animal commerce that fuel zoonotic disease risk in the U.S. It analyzes 36 different animal industries, including fur-farming, the exotic pet trade, hunting and trapping, industrial animal agriculture, backyard chicken production, roadside zoos, and more, to assess the risks each poses of generating a large-scale disease outbreak.

The report states, far from being a problem that only exists elsewhere, many high-risk interactions between humans and animals that happen routinely and customarily inside the U.S. could spark future pandemics. All of the animal industries the report examines are far less regulated than they should be and far less than the public believes they currently are. Today, wide regulatory gaps exist through which pathogens can spillover and spread, leaving the public constantly vulnerable to zoonotic disease.

This report was researched and written by Ann Linder, Valerie Wilson McCarthy, Chris Green, Bonnie Nadzam, Dale Jamieson, and Kristen Stilt.

The research was made possible by the generous support of the Brooks Institute for Animal Rights Law & Policy through the Brooks Animal Studies Academic Network (BASAN). BASAN member institutions that also provided resources and research assistance are the University of Denver’s Animal Law Program, Lewis & Clark Law School’s Center for Animal Law Studies, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, University of Victoria’s Animals & Society Research Initiative, and Yale Law School’s Law, Ethics & Animals Program.


Bonnie Nadzam is a graduate of ASU, having earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing in 2004.

Warehouse full of turkeys
Date published
Harvard Law School and New York University

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