Ick. That's all I have to say about reading this article at Boston.com, about a Wisconsin family currently quarantined with monkeypox (genus Orthopoxvirus) [warning: link is not pretty!]. The virus, never before seen in the Western hemisphere, was reportedly passed on to them from their newly acquired prairie dogs (genus Cynomys), who themselves were likely infected by a shipment of African Gambian rats (Cricetomys gambianus) delivered to a pet store in the Chicago area. Prairie dogs have become fairly popular pets in America in recent years. There are now more than three dozen confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox in the Midwest U.S., and while the disease is not usually fatal to humans, at least one prairie dog has died. You can read the CDC's press release on the subject by clicking here.