Chinese researchers at prestigious institutes and universities have called on their government to do more to eradicate “the illegal consumption and trade of wild animals.”
The city of Wuhan and its market, which was home to illegal wildlife trade, are suspected of being behind the 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak currently raging in China. Thus, illicit markets are in the sights of researchers who accuse them of facilitating the emergence of new pathogens posing serious public health problems.
“70% of new infectious diseases are of animal origin”
The bat could be a natural reservoir of the virus and then transmitted it to humans via an intermediate species, a mammal. The hypothesis of the emergence of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan was quickly hypothesized because of a large number of reported cases and the presence of many different animal species in the same place. A market brochure touted the trade in live animals as varied as rats, foxes, crocodiles, cubs, giant salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines or camel meat. The hall was closed on 1 January 2020 as a precautionary measure. Finally, an article published in The Lancet on January 24, 2020, casts doubt on the origin of the epidemic: the first known patient became ill on December 1, 2019, and had no connection to the Wuhan market as is the case for 13 of the first 41 hospitalized patients. The virus would have been introduced to this place: “The virus entered this market before coming out of this market,” sums up Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist quoted by Science.
While Beijing has announced a temporary ban on wildlife trade until “the epidemic situation is lifted throughout the country” to prevent the spread of coronavirus, for some researchers this is not enough.