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Bestiality Legal in Florida, But Punishment May Be Swine Flu or Other "Zoonosis"

Legislation by Sunrise Sen. Nan Rich to make bestiality illegal in Florida passed the Senate this week only to stall in the House amid the chaos of trying to pass a budget in a year of financial turmoil.

But you can bet Rich will introduce the bill a third time despite its having perished in the last two legislative sessions. And keep in mind that in 2010, Rich is on track to lead the Democrats' caucus. That status might give her a bit more sway with committees who prioritize pending bills.

In the meantime, backers of Rich's legislation, like the national Humane Society, appear intent on using other persuasive (and trendy) means for deterring bestiality. The organization's senior policy adviser, Bernard Unti, told me, "In times of swine flu, this [sexual] type of contact can become a transmitter of diseases that jump between animals and humans."

It's a myth that AIDS was born in this fashion -- most likely, it made the jump thanks to humans who ate chimps who had eaten infected monkeys. Still, it is a "zoonotic" disease  -- an infection that travels from animal to human. And since viruses can be found in animal saliva, urine, vaginal fluid, and semen, sex with an animal is considered an extremely high-risk behavior. Among the more formidable potential infections is the ancient scourge of brucellosis, also called "Maltese fever." It's another potential pandemic we can only hope stays locked in some Egyptian tomb.

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Thomas Francis

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