#WildlifeMarkets; #WetMarkets; #InfectedBat; #COVID19Pandemic; #Wuhan, #China
New York, Mar 27 (Canadian-Media): Scientists believe that the emergence of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 is from one of the wildlife markets, also known as "wet markets" in the Chinese city of Wuhan through an infected bat, media reports said.
Wildlife market. Image credit: npr.org
Bats are just one of the animals, sold at these markets, including domestic livestock and pigs, chickens, civet cats, bamboo rats and porcupines.
The main concern with these markets is a spill over event causing the transfer of viruses from one species to another and then cross over to humans, said Kerry Bowman, an assistant professor and bioethicist at the University of Toronto.
"If we do not deal with this, there is nothing to say that we could not in eighteen months' time have another outbreak, and it could be worse," Bowman said.
Humans will transmit that virus from one person to another, On very rare occasions, which is what occurred with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and is happening with COVID-19.
It was also suggested by scientists that continued existence of wildlife markets would result in the world hit with another deadly pandemic.
Wildlife markets are "a perfect opportunity for the mixing of bacteria and viruses, as well as transmission to other groups," said Jason Stull, assistant professor at the University of Prince Edward Island's Atlantic Veterinary College.
The weakening of immune system of animals due to stress and malnutrition increases the likelihood of an animal to shed higher amounts of virus under duress, said Stull and added,
"All of these things likely can contribute to movement back and forth of diseases."
William Karesh, executive vice president for health and policy at New York-based EcoHealth Alliance, that conducts scientific research on emerging infectious diseases, said about three-fourths of all such diseases are somehow linked to wildlife.
Karesh said that the two possible ways which caused the current coronavirus outbreak was either through an infected wild animal being sold in the market, or an infected vendor in the market which infected customers.
Karesh warned that unless international community comes to grips with the growing and unsustainable use of wildlife, we will "continue to see pandemics."
"There are three to five emerging diseases every year, and only by luck and the grace of God ... they don't turn into pandemics each time."
Bowman emphasized that besides China, wildlife markets are found in the Far East, and extends into Vietnam, a lot of Southeast Asia, Indonesia.
However, shutting down such markets may prove extremely challenging, said Bowman due to thousands of years of these cultural practices and have become part of a multibillion-dollar global industry pegged at somewhere between $7 billion to $23 billion US a year, Bowman said.