Weekend Rewind: Animals and viruses a deadly combination for humans

Animals and viruses a deadly combination for humans

Bottom Line: The prevailing scientific explanation for the outbreak of COVID-19 remains a food market in Wuhan China. And while President Trump correctly points out that the World Health Organization, in conjunction with their friends in China, didn’t begin to sound the alarm about the virus until December 30th - despite recent evidence that the virus was known to be an issue at least a month earlier-the causation remains the same. Tainted wild animals in a food market being consumed by people. COVID-19 is far from the first deadly virus to derive from animals, from HIV to COVID-19's coronacousins SARS and MERS, all derived from contact with, or consumption of, tainted animals. The term for these viruses is zoonotic. Here’s the definition:

Zoonotic: a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people or, more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but that can infect humans. 

From cat scratch fever to COVID-19, the effects on us are all far more severe than to the carriers which is part of the problem. We generally aren’t aware there’s a problem with an animal or animals until it’s too late. A new study just published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is eye opening as to the potential for the ramping up of future coronavirus type outbreaks. Among the findings...

  • 70% of diseases humans contract derive from animals
  • Domesticated animals, primates, bats and rats are the top carriers of zoonotic’s
  • Numerous zoonotic carriers are used for agriculture and consumption

While hopefully we aren’t compelled to eat rats or bats at any point, we know unfortunately many have been and are in food markets like Wuhan. Thus, the increased risk going forward. Additionally, it places added emphasis on adequately cooking meats generally. But what this illustrates most of all is that it’s likely that unless there’s a significant change in eating habits and animal contact in places like China, we’re all at increased risk of future issues, similar but potentially different than COVID-19. It’s likely that isolated breakouts occurred throughout history, but due to the lack of widespread travel it would have been naturally contained. That’s no longer the case. The measures and systems being implemented today will likely be just as important in the not so distant future.

Quoting the lead researcher in the new study: Once we move past this public health emergency, we hope policy makers can focus on pandemic preparedness and prevention of zoonotic disease risk, especially when developing environmental, land management, and animal resource policies.

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