VIDEO: Filmmaker Jack Harries Shows Reality of ‘Wet Markets’

VIDEO: Filmmaker Jack Harries Shows Reality of ‘Wet Markets’

Posted by Saskia on June 11, 2020 | Permalink

Filmmaker Jack Harries joins forces with PETA in a brand-new video, discussing how disease-ridden “wet markets” and factory farms breed global pandemics like COVID-19 – and why they need to be shut down immediately.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/5uR5BaY7Ku4?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autoplay=0

The video includes footage of living and dead animals, including bats, rats, and frogs, at wet markets in Asia. Terrified animals are confined to small cages, and floors and countertops are smeared with faeces, blood, and urine. This footage was taken in April 2020 – a month after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. Jack explains the link between animal exploitation and deadly diseases:

“Today, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals, mainly via the wildlife trade or factory farming. Unless we stop exploiting animals – and soon – there will be more pandemics to come.”

Enough Is Enough

Experts say that the COVID-19 outbreak originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where humans had direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh.

Despite a growing death toll, calls by world leaders for a ban on such markets, and the continued importance of flattening the curve, these markets are still conducting business as usual.

To prevent more diseases like COVID-19, all live-animal markets must close. Join PETA in urging the World Health Organization to call for an end to live-animal meat markets:Take Action

The exploitation and slaughter of living, feeling beings has led millions of us to be infected with a dangerous disease – and it’s not the first time something like this has happened.

According to Public Health England, “Many (60 to 80% [of]) emerging infections are derived from an animal source.” Filthy factory farms, abattoirs, and meat markets threaten the health of every human being on the planet by providing a breeding ground for deadly pathogens like the ones behind COVID-19, SARS, bird flu, and more.

Will the Next Pandemic Come From a UK Farm?

On farms in the UK, stressed animals are crammed into cages or sheds by the thousands and pumped full of antibiotics to keep them alive in filthy conditions that would otherwise kill them. Pathogens flourish in such environments.

We’re playing a dangerous game. Given the huge population of animals living on factory farms in the UK and around the world, we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to further catastrophic disease outbreaks and pandemics.

casperhilt

And in part because of the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, experts believe that by 2050, more people will die of antibiotic-resistant diseases than of cancer.

What You Can Do

Not only is our mistreatment of animals responsible for deadly pandemics and putting human lives at risk, it also causes other animals immense suffering and is destroying the planet. Now is the time for each and every person to take responsibility for their part.

Filmmaker Jack Harries joins forces with PETA in a brand-new video, discussing how disease-ridden “wet markets” and factory farms breed global pandemics like COVID-19 – and why they need to be shut down immediately.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/5uR5BaY7Ku4?wmode=transparent&rel=0&autoplay=0

The video includes footage of living and dead animals, including bats, rats, and frogs, at wet markets in Asia. Terrified animals are confined to small cages, and floors and countertops are smeared with faeces, blood, and urine. This footage was taken in April 2020 – a month after the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. Jack explains the link between animal exploitation and deadly diseases:

“Today, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases come from animals, mainly via the wildlife trade or factory farming. Unless we stop exploiting animals – and soon – there will be more pandemics to come.”

Enough Is Enough

Experts say that the COVID-19 outbreak originated in a wet market in Wuhan, China, where humans had direct contact with live animals and dead animal flesh.

Despite a growing death toll, calls by world leaders for a ban on such markets, and the continued importance of flattening the curve, these markets are still conducting business as usual.

To prevent more diseases like COVID-19, all live-animal markets must close. Join PETA in urging the World Health Organization to call for an end to live-animal meat markets:Take Action

The exploitation and slaughter of living, feeling beings has led millions of us to be infected with a dangerous disease – and it’s not the first time something like this has happened.

According to Public Health England, “Many (60 to 80% [of]) emerging infections are derived from an animal source.” Filthy factory farms, abattoirs, and meat markets threaten the health of every human being on the planet by providing a breeding ground for deadly pathogens like the ones behind COVID-19, SARS, bird flu, and more.

Will the Next Pandemic Come From a UK Farm?

On farms in the UK, stressed animals are crammed into cages or sheds by the thousands and pumped full of antibiotics to keep them alive in filthy conditions that would otherwise kill them. Pathogens flourish in such environments.

We’re playing a dangerous game. Given the huge population of animals living on factory farms in the UK and around the world, we’re leaving ourselves vulnerable to further catastrophic disease outbreaks and pandemics.

casperhilt

And in part because of the widespread use of antibiotics in animal agriculture, experts believe that by 2050, more people will die of antibiotic-resistant diseases than of cancer.

What You Can Do

Not only is our mistreatment of animals responsible for deadly pandemics and putting human lives at risk, it also causes other animals immense suffering and is destroying the planet. Now is the time for each and every person to take responsibility for their part.

Yulin dog meat festival to begin this weekend, defying Chinese declaration that dogs are pets not food

Yulin dog meat festival to begin this weekend, defying Chinese declaration that dogs are pets not food

June 19, 2020 0 Comments

Also in the video you’ll see puppies, who were on offer for slaughter and sale at a market just outside Yulin, being rescued by Chinese animal activists. The activists, upon seeing the 10 puppies, questioned the stall holder about how the animals had been acquired, and he agreed to let the activists take them. The dogs are now being cared for at our partner shelter.

“I couldn’t believe that anyone would even want to eat these adorable little darlings,” said one of the activists, Jennifer Chen, who can be seen lifting a puppy from the cage in the video. “My hands were trembling…he kept licking my hands, and unbeknown to him I could easily have been a dog meat eater.”

China has made progress in recent months toward ending the dog meat trade, most significantly by confirming earlier this month that dogs are considered pets and not meat. While this is not in itself a ban on the trade, two cities—Shenzhen and Zhuhai—have banned the consumption of dog and cat meat.

Promisingly, in Yulin, too, there appears to be less activity this year than usual. With the resurgence of the coronavirus in Beijing and continuing travel restrictions throughout the country, dog meat restaurants and markets in Yulin are quieter. Trade overall is also sluggish, as traders told activists, because the government is cracking down on animal transport between provinces. This makes it harder for the traders to acquire live dogs from outside the Guangxi province as they did in past years, when large numbers of dogs were transported in trucks, spending days without food and water.

While in past years dog meat was sold at stores around the city, a majority of such sales have now been consolidated into one central area called Nanchao market on the outskirts of Yulin. The notorious Dongkou market, once the epicenter of dog meat sales and the slaughter of live dogs, has much fewer vendors than it did in past years. Dr Peter Li, HSI’s China policy specialist, believes this could be because authorities may want to keep a closer eye on all the dog meat trade activity by centralizing it.

As our partner group activists found out over three separate trips to Yulin in the last 12 weeks, dog meat consumption among the city’s residents has also dropped. They heard from people like Xiao Shu, a young store owner who lives in Yulin with her three dogs and 10 cats, and, like most young Chinese, would not dream of eating dog meat.

While all this is encouraging, even one dog killed for this trade is one too many. We stand with Chinese animal activists who are urging local authorities in Yulin to embrace the national government’s declaration that dogs are companions not food, by halting the dog meat festival and the year-round dog and cat meat trade there. The world’s eye, once again, is focused on China as this gruesome event unfolds, this time even more closely because of the coronavirus pandemic and its link to crowded markets where animals are slaughtered for food. Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and there is no tolerance left there—or in the rest of the world—for such abject cruelty.

Beijing closes food market, locks down district after new coronavirus outbreak

Beijing swiftly shut down the city’s largest wholesale market after dozens of people became infected with coronavirus, and officials have declared “wartime management” in one district, according to reports.

Of the 500 people who were tested on Friday, seven tested positive and showed symptoms of COVID-19, with an additional 46 asymptomatic people testing positive. The cases mark the first local transmissions of the disease in the Chinese capital in 55 days, according to the South China Morning Post.

People wearing face masks to protect against the new coronavirus stop at a checkpoint outside the Xinfadi wholesale food market district in Beijing, Saturday, June 13, 2020. Beijing closed the city's largest wholesale food market Saturday after the discovery of seven cases of the new coronavirus in the previous two days.

People wearing face masks to protect against the new coronavirus stop at a checkpoint outside the Xinfadi wholesale food market district in Beijing, Saturday, June 13, 2020. Beijing closed the city’s largest wholesale food market Saturday after the discovery of seven cases of the new coronavirus in the previous two days. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Patient Zero in the new outbreak is believed to have visited the Xinfadi market in the Fengtai district, a market that accounts for roughly 90 percent of the city’s produce.

Traces of the disease were found on cutting boards, forcing a citywide scramble to remove fish – particularly salmon – from restaurant menus and supermarket shelves.

Pang Xinghuo, deputy director of Beijing’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed that all of the new cases were linked to the Xinfadi market.

The Beijing Health Commission has said that at least three of the symptomatic patients were employees at the market, according to The New York Times.

Eleven neighborhoods around the market have issued a stay-at-home advisory, and citizens have been urged to avoid traveling in or out of Beijing. Sporting events and tour group trips to Beijing have been suspended and classes have been cancelled for students in kindergarten and the first three years of elementary school.

Officials have said that more than 10,000 people who work at the market will be tested, and the market itself will be disinfected.  All patients who have tested positive are in quarantine and under observation.

More than 1,900 workers at markets across the city have already been tested, according to the commission.

Feng Zhanchun, a public health expert, said the links between the number of positive cases means the virus is spreading in the community. The spread and response have so far echoed that of Wuhan at the start of the pandemic.

“If it can’t be put under control right now, the virus will affect many people in a short time because of the high density of population in cities,” Feng said.

__________________________________________________________

Also see: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/06/13/876544822/beijing-in-wartime-emergency-mode-amid-fresh-cluster-of-coronavirus-cases

Beijing district in ‘wartime emergency’ after virus spike shuts market

KEY POINTS
  • Concern is growing of a second wave of the pandemic, which has infected more than 7.66 million people worldwide and killed more than 420,000, even in many countries that seemed to have curbed its spread.
  • The virus was first reported at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, in December.
People carry goods out of a side entrance of the Jingshen seafood market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. - The market was closed for disinfection and investigation on June 12 after it was found that a newly identified coronavirus patient had visited it.
People carry goods out of a side entrance of the Jingshen seafood market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. – The market was closed for disinfection and investigation on June 12 after it was found that a newly identified coronavirus patient had visited it.
GREG BAKER / Contributor

A district of Beijing was on a “wartime” footing and the capital banned tourism on Saturday after a cluster of novel coronavirus infections centred around a major wholesale market sparked fears of a new wave of COVID-19.

Concern is growing of a second wave of the pandemic, which has infected more than 7.66 million people worldwide and killed more than 420,000, even in many countries that seemed to have curbed its spread.

The virus was first reported at a seafood market in Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, in December.

Chu Junwei, an official of Beijing’s southwestern Fengtai district, told a briefing on Saturday that the district was in “wartime emergency mode”.

Throat swabs from 45 people, out of 517 tested at the district’s Xinfadi wholesale market, had tested positive for the new coronavirus, though none of them showed symptoms of COVID-19, Chu said.

A city spokesman told the briefing that all six COVID-19 patients confirmed in Beijing on Friday had visited the Xinfadi market. The capital will suspend sports events and inter-provincial tourism effective immediately, he said.

One person at an agricultural market in the city’s northwestern Haidian district also tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 without showing symptoms, Chu said.

As part of measures to curb the spread of the virus, Fengtai district said it had locked down 11 neighbourhoods in the vicinity of the market.

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Authorities closed the Xinfadi market at 3 a.m. on Saturday (1900 GMT on Friday), after two men working at a meat research centre who had recently visited the market were reported on Friday to have been infected. It was not immediately clear how the men had been infected.

“Preliminary judgment suggests these cases may have come into contact with a contaminated environment in the market, or were infected after being in contact with infected people. We cannot rule out subsequent cases in the future,” said Pang Xinghuo, an official at the Beijing Center for Disease Control.

Beijing authorities had earlier halted beef and mutton trading at the Xinfadi market, alongside closures at other wholesale markets around the city.

Reflecting concerns over the risk of further spread of the virus, major supermarkets in Beijing removed salmon from their shelves overnight after the virus causing COVID-19 was discovered on chopping boards used for imported salmon at the market, the state-owned Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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Beijing authorities said more than 10,000 people at the market will take nucleic acid tests to detect coronavirus infections. The city government also said it had dropped plans to reopen schools on Monday for students in grades one through three because of the new cases.

Health authorities visited the home of a Reuters reporter in Beijing’s Dongcheng district on Saturday to ask whether she had visited the Xinfadi market, which is 15 km (9 miles) away. They said the visit was part of patrols Dongcheng was conducting.

China reported 11 new COVID-19 cases and seven asymptomatic infections of the virus for Friday, the national health authority said on Saturday. All six locally transmitted cases were confirmed in Beijing.

Viewpoint: It’s time for state to close live animal markets

As world leaders continue to debate the closure of wild animal wet markets across the globe, New York can act right now to stem the spread of zoonotic diseases caused by the exploitation of animals by closing such markets in the state.

Live animal markets have for too long cruelly consumed millions of wild animals and endangered the planet’s health. Experts have said the COVID-19 pandemic likely arose from a wet market in China.

COVID-19 is not the only deadly disease to emerge from such markets across the globe. SARS, MERS, Ebola, Nipah virus and many others have jumped from animals to humans because of the wildlife trade.

In fact, three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals and more than 34 million people worldwide have died from zoonotic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.

New York state is home to more than 80 live animal markets, including in Schenectady, Buffalo and New York City, the latter of which hosts the majority of them and where more than 21,600 people so far have died from COVID-19. Smuggled illegal bush meat from imported exotics such as monkeys, pythons and civets can make their way into such markets to be sold to consumers.

Many of these markets operate next door to schools and homes despite health laws prohibiting slaughterhouses near residential buildings, according to Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and state Sen. Luis Sepulveda, who have introduced a bill (A.10399) to shut them. The markets are not regulated by the USDA, but by state agencies, which have weaker oversight rules and a small staff of inspectors who struggle to keep up with the quarterly inspections mandated by state law.

It would be shameful if state lawmakers failed to act on a bill at the center of the crisis, one that will save lives, end exploitation and suffering of humans and animals and help prevent future pandemics.

Priscilla Feral is president of Friends of Animals.

China continues reforms in wake of coronavirus crisis: confirms dogs are pets not meat; Wuhan, Beijing ban eating wildlife

 June 04, 2020
HSUS:

In recent months, China has made rapid progress toward quashing its infamous wildlife and dog meat trades. Last week, we got more good news on this front: China officially confirmed that dogs are pets and are not livestock for eating; and Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have originated, prohibited residents from consuming all wildlife. ​

The declaration that dogs are companions and not livestock, first proposed in April, comes just weeks ahead of the Yulin dog meat festival, which begins June 21st, and where thousands of dogs and cats are killed for their meat each year. We hope this new development will lead to authorities in Yulin reining in—and even putting a complete stop to—this terrible event.

We also hope the declaration will lead China to act swiftly to end the dog and cat meat trade wherever it exists in the nation. Most people in China do not eat dog and cat meat, and animals who end up in this trade are often stolen pets who meet a gruesome end.

Unfortunately, the final livestock list issued by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs does include some wild animals, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, who suffer immensely in the fur trade. Keeping these animals in close, confined conditions has been known to increase the risk of zoonotic disease spread. We call on China to reconsider this decision and ensure that all wild animals are kept off the livestock list, and to ban the fur trade as well, if it truly wants to rebrand itself as a nation that cares about global human health and animal welfare.

Wuhan’s ban on eating wild animals now brings up to four the total number of Chinese cities that have announced similar bans. In April, the city of Shenzhen first banned the eating of wildlife and included dogs and cats in its ban. Last week, the city announced a free program for microchipping all of the city’s 220,000 dogs to encourage responsible pet ownership and stop the stealing of dogs for the meat trade. Also last month, the city of Zhuhai adopted a ban on wildlife and dog and meat consumption and the nation’s capital city, Beijing, banned the eating of wildlife.

But while the bans in these other cities are permanent, the ban in Wuhan will only be in place for five years. We are calling on Wuhan to make its ban permanent, because science and history have shown that these markets present great health risk to humans and they need to be closed down in China and elsewhere around the globe where they exist.

We also urge China, which announced a temporary nationwide ban on wildlife consumption in February, to make that ban permanent.

Last month we reported that several provinces in mainland China, including Hunan and Jiangxi, are offering wildlife farmers a buy-out to move away from breeding wild animals for food and transition to alternative livelihoods such as growing fruit, vegetables, tea plants or herbs for traditional Chinese medicine. This plan is similar to the one we have implemented in South Korea, where we have been successfully transitioning farmers out of the dog meat trade and into more humane livelihoods for six years now.

The developments in China are being accelerated by the coronavirus crisis, but they are truly heartening for our Humane Society International team which, along with local partners on the ground, has been sowing the seeds for this transformation in attitudes and practice for years now. We have contributed to public education, met with government officials, assisted with the rescue of dogs and cats bound for slaughter, and brought global attention to China’s dog meat trade by focusing media attention on events like Yulin where companion animals suffer so terribly each year. We have also shone the spotlight on the wildlife trade, which has led to some species of wild animals, including pangolins and tigers, being pushed to the brink of extinction.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that treating animals cruelly can result in disaster for humans, and there hasn’t been a better time to recognize the harm these practices cause and to root them out. The momentum in China shows signs of growing even stronger: at the just concluded annual session of the National People’s Congress, delegates to the national legislature submitted several proposals to outlaw animal cruelty, shut down the wildlife trade, outlaw dog meat trade, ban the online transmission of animal cruelty images and videos and end animal performances. All of this is very promising, and we applaud the nation for moving forward on this important path that will benefit both its people and its animals for generations to come.

The post China continues reforms in wake of coronavirus crisis: confirms dogs are pets not meat; Wuhan, Beijing ban eating wildlife appeared first on A Humane World.

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Wildlife markets are the tip of the iceberg and not just in China

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

In the heart of central Jakarta, about 20 minutes from Joko Widodo’s Presidential Palace, the Pramuka Bird Market is open for business.

The aisles throng with people, few wearing masks, and hum with the din of humans, birds, reptiles and mammals all mixed together. It stinks too.

A live lizard is displayed for sale in a cage at the Satria market in Bali, Indonesia.
A live lizard is displayed for sale in a cage at the Satria market in Bali, Indonesia.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

Today, Vonis, a local trader who uses just the one name, is holding forth about the origins of the coronavirus that has infected nearly 6 million people, killed more than 360,000, up-ended the global economy and more. It is thought to have passed from bats, via an unidentified animal, to humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China.

“It’s hoax. It is not true that bats caused COVID-19. I’ve been selling this [bats] for many years, nobody gets sick here. No one. Also, many Indonesians eat bat meat and nobody is sick. I myself healed my asthma after consuming bat. It happened when I was around 25 years old. I’m a bit over 40, I am healthy now,” he says.

Vonis sells birds, mostly, as pets, but he also has bats (about $25), civets (about $40) and squirrels. It’s for traditional medicine, he hastens to add. He sells about 30 bats a week and is happy to offer cooking tips.

“Just fry it, don’t put too many spices in like the Manado dish. Just a little salt. For chronic asthma you have to consume it twice a week. If it is only for keeping you healthy, eat it once a month.”

A man feeds bats for sale at the Satria market in Bali.
A man feeds bats for sale at the Satria market in Bali.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

If you want a pangolin – thought to be the potential “bridge animal” between bats and humans in Wuhan – he can get you one of those, too.

“Nobody has it here [at the market]. But if you want, we can look for it. I have someone who can do it.”

The small, scaly mammal cost between $250 and $300 to source, and you have to pay half in advance.

Civet cats for sale at a market in Bali.
Civet cats for sale at a market in Bali.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

Vonis is far from the only person in the Pramuka market selling exotic animals for consumption. Indonesia is home to some large wildlife wet markets, such as the Beriman Tomohon in North Sulawesi, the Satria in Bali, Hewan Pasty in Yogyakarta, Depok in Solo and Jatinegara, also in Jakarta. There also smaller markets – up to 1000, according to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network.

At the Satria, pet shop owner Nengah Wita sells bats, rabbit, chickens, song birds and geckos. He’s at pains to stress he sells very few bats (they retail for about $120 each) and says they are only sold to help with asthma in traditional medicine.

He says people have “exaggerated” the part played by bats in the origin of the coronavirus.

“I would’ve fallen sick weeks ago if it was true. But I am fine, I sleep in the shop, I care for them every day, I even got bitten last week but you can see, I am not sick. Just like the last time, the bird flu, I sell birds too, but I was fine then too.”

These market traders are just the tip of the iceberg. Civets are widely available for sale on Tokopedia, Indonesia’s answer to eBay (some listings describe them as pets, others note they are very tasty). It isn’t hard to find pangolin scales for sale, either.

While experts such as Professor Wiku Adisasmito, who is part of the Indonesian government’s national COVID-19 taskforce, have warned that wild animal markets are an “animal cafeteria for pathogens” that could lead to the next coronavirus, the national government has shown little appetite for tackling the problem. Instead, it has suggested that it the responsibility of provincial governments.

It’s a similar story throughout the region where bats, pangolins, civets, rats, rare birds, dogs, and parts of rhinos, elephants and tigers are regularly traded.

China has, since the emergence SARS-CoV-2, flagged plans to ban the trade of live animals for food – but left exceptions for traditional medicine and fur. That’s more than most countries. A Vietnamese plan to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals seems to have stalled.

The illegal trade in wild animals for food, medicine, fur and as pets is big business worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion annually. The legal trade – loosely regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [CITES] of Wild Fauna and Flora – is worth perhaps 10 times as much and, until the new coronavirus was unleashed, it was booming.

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What is a wet market?

What is a wet market?

Protests sweep across the US

What is a wet market?

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3:25

What is a wet market?

The reopening of China’s wet markets has sparked global debate and prompted calls to close them entirely. But with confusion around the definition of the term ‘wet market’, we take a look at exactly what it means, and how their permanent c…

Scott Roberton, the Bangkok-based director for Counter-Wildlife trafficking for the Wildlife Conservation Society, praises China for its post-COVID-19 plans to curtail the wildlife trade, though he admits it could go further.

“It’s a much bigger problem than a single market in Wuhan. We really need to break this idea that it’s only about markets. They are an important location, but huge volumes of the trade in wild animals in the region takes place outside of markets and poses similar risks of virus emergence,” he says.

“Wildlife is moved over provincial and international boundaries, stored in houses, warehouses, refrigerated storerooms, restaurants, shops and farms.”

Roberton, who was based in Vietnam for more than a decade, describes China as less of a “source” country now and as more of a destination for wildlife consumption, as well as a transit country for animals coming from places such as Cambodia and Laos. Indonesia, too, “is a source, destination and transit country”.

Live turtles for sale at the Xihua Farmers' Market in Guangzhou, China.
Live turtles for sale at the Xihua Farmers’ Market in Guangzhou, China.CREDIT:EPA/AP

Laos and Cambodia, some of the poorest countries in south-east Asia, operate as a source for both farmed and illegally caught wildlife. There is a domestic market, too, for consumption by tourists, as is the case with Thailand.

“This is one of the most valuable illicit trades, up there with drugs, weapons, human trafficking and counterfeit goods; it’s worth billions of dollars annually,” Roberton says.

“One reaction from some governments is that they don’t have the trade of wildlife for meat like in China, yet they do have trade for wildlife as pets and traditional medicine. The fact is that the conditions that lead to the emergence of zoonotic pathogens like COVID-19 and SARS occur in the wild animal trade whether they are being sold for meat, fur or medicine, so policies focused on only wildlife meat won’t significantly reduce the future threat of pathogen emergence.”

Australia has backed an international review of wildlife markets in the wake of the virus, which it has labelled a “big risk” to human health and food production.

Leanne Wicker, a senior vet at Healesville Sanctuary who worked in Vietnam for years and is an expert on species threatened by the wildlife trade, says such infectious organisms are “no risk to people when wild animals are left in the wild”.

The problem is that human behaviour, such as habitat destruction, ecotourism, hunting, the trade and consumption of wild animals and the farming of wild animals brings “people and wildlife into unnaturally proximity enabling the spillover of disease between species”.

Aside from COVID-19, she reels off rabies, Ebola, Hendra virus, henipavirus, the first SARS coronavirus, monkey pox, HIV, leptospirosis and rat lung worm, salmonella and toxoplasmosis as examples.

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not the first significant pathogen to arise from the wildlife trade and it most certainly won’t be the last.”

She’s also frustrated by the focus on wildlife or wet markets, arguing that restaurants, for example, can also pose a significant risk in spreading new and exotic viruses.

Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said markets that exist across Africa and north and south-east Asia and sell animals for traditional medicine and food consumption are a “particular concern”.

“Even before COVID-19, we knew these sorts of markets posed a serious potential risk to human health and, if we obtain the scientific backing, we would like to see these markets phased out to ensure public health,” he says.

As Wicker says, the impact of the global wildlife trade is “devastating”.

“While I am acutely aware that the public health risks are significant, it is very hard to ignore the fact that this is a problem caused entirely by human greed. For me, the real tragedy lies in considering the fear, pain and discomfort felt by every single one of the many millions of individual animals who find themselves unlucky participants in this human atrocity.”

– with Amilia Rosa

Pangolins may have incubated the novel coronavirus, gene study shows

(CNN)A deep dive into the genetics of the novel coronavirus shows it seems to have spent some time infecting both bats and pangolins before it jumped into humans, researchers said Friday.

But they said it’s too soon to blame [“blame”??  Not their fault humans captured and dragged them to wet markets] pangolins for the pandemic and say a third species of animal may have played host to the virus before it spilled [?] over to people.
What is clear is that the coronavirus has swapped genes repeatedly with similar strains infecting bats, pangolins and a possible third species, a team of researchers from Duke University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and elsewhere reported in the journal Science Advances.
A white-bellied pangolin  rescued from local animal traffickers at the Uganda Wildlife Authority office in Kampala, Uganda, on April 9, 2020.

What’s also clear is that people need to reduce contact with wild animals that can transmit new infections, the researchers concluded.
The team analyzed 43 complete genomes from three strains of coronaviruses that infect bats and pangolins and that resemble the new Covid-19 virus.
close dialog
“In our study, we demonstrated that indeed SARS-CoV-2 has a rich evolutionary history that included a reshuffling of genetic material between bat and pangolin coronavirus before it acquired its ability to jump to humans,” said Elena Giorgi, a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who worked on the study.
But their findings may let pangolins off the hook. The animals, also known as scaly anteaters, are sold as food in many countries, including China, and have been a prime suspect as a possible source of the pandemic.
“The currently sampled pangolin coronaviruses are too divergent from SARS-CoV-2 to be its recent progenitors,” the researchers wrote.
Whether the mixing and matching between bat viruses and pangolin viruses was enough to change the virus into a form that now easily infects humans remains unclear, the researchers said.
“It is also possible that other not yet identified hosts (can be) infected with coronaviruses that can jump to human populations through cross-species transmission,” the researchers wrote. “If the new SARS-CoV-2 strain did not cause widespread infections in its natural or intermediate hosts, such a strain may never be identified.”
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But people are setting themselves up to be infected with new viruses via “wet markets” where many different species of live animals are caged and sold, and by moving deeper into forests where animals live, the researchers said.
“While the direct reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 is still being sought, one thing is clear: reducing or eliminating direct human contact with wild animals is critical to preventing new coronavirus zoonosis in the future,” they concluded.

New York Legislation Would Ban Live Animal Markets To Control Spread of Disease

  1. May 5, 2020

NEW YORK—In an effort to control the spread of infectious diseases, live animal markets might soon be banned in New York. A new bill, introduced by Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), would immediately prohibit the operation of live animal markets in New York, effectively suspending current live markets’ operations and preventing further licenses for such markets from being issued.

“In a matter of weeks, COVID-19 has ravaged New York and changed life for millions of New Yorkers,” says Assembly Member Rosenthal. “As policymakers, we have a responsibility to respond to this crisis by doing everything in our power to prevent the next pandemic. Closing New York’s live animal markets, which operate in residential neighborhoods and do not adhere to even the most basic sanitary standards, until we determine whether they can be made safe, is a vital first step.”

Doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit of more than 12,000 doctors—applaud the legislation for promoting public health and aiming to prevent the spread of future viruses.

COVID-19 appears to have originated in bats and passed to humans via live animal markets. Previously, other coronavirus outbreaks have also spread through animals sold in live markets. The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic of 2002–2003 originated in horseshoe bats, passing through civets sold for meat to humans.

The legislation could also help stop the spread of new strains of influenza A, an avian virus. Beginning with the 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic (if not before), all influenza A outbreaks have come originally from bird viruses that have found their way into domesticated animal populations and, from there, into farmworkers, their contacts, and the broader community. The H1N1 virus killed millions of people.

“Avoiding future pandemics like the COVID-19 global crisis requires a total ban on live markets, including the 80 in New York City alone,” says Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, president of the Physicians Committee. “Poultry flocks are breeding grounds for influenza A viruses, and live animal markets are the source of coronavirus.”

New York City has the greatest number of live bird markets, compared with other U.S. cities, according to the New York State Consumer Protection Board. Inspection reports from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets show ongoing health, safety, and welfare problems in New York’s live animal markets.

The bill would also create a seven-person task force who would conduct examinations of the shutdown markets for potential public health risks. The members would have expertise in infectious diseases, with a focus on the potential spread of disease between animals and humans. They would report their findings within a year of its first meeting and include a recommendation for further action.

 

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

Coronavirus was ‘not manmade or genetically modified’: U.S. spy agency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. spy agency said for the first time on Thursday the American intelligence community believes the COVID-19 virus that originated in China was not manmade or genetically modified.

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

The Office of Director of National Intelligence statement contradicted conspiracy theories floated by anti-China activists and some supporters of President Donald Trump suggesting the new coronavirus was developed by Chinese scientists in a government biological weapons laboratory from which it then escaped.

It also echoed comments by the World Health Organization (WHO), which on April 21 said all available evidence suggests the coronavirus originated in animals in China late last year and was not manipulated or made in a laboratory.

“The Intelligence Community (IC) also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,” the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement.

“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” it added.

U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reporting and analysis have said for weeks they do not believe conspiracy theories that Chinese scientists developed the coronavirus in a government biological weapons lab from which it then escaped.

Rather, they have said they believe it either was introduced naturally into a Wuhan meat market or could have escaped from one of two Wuhan government laboratories believed to be conducting civilian research into possible biological hazards.

Trump, who has heaped blame on China for the global pandemic, on Thursday said he believes China’s handling of the disease is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November.

More than 3.21 million people have been infected by the novel coronavirus globally, and 227,864 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) on Thursday.

In an Oval Office interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Trump talked tough on China and said he was looking at different options in terms of consequences for Beijing over the virus. “I can do a lot,” he said, without providing details.

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; writing by Arshad Mohammed; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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