Coronavirus or antibiotic resistance: Our appetite for animals (wild and domestic) poses big disease risks

By Laura H. Kahn365彩票合法吗, February 14, 2020

Men at a seafood stall in Wuhan, China. Men at a seafood stall in Wuhan, China, in November 2019. Credit: Arend Kuester via Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.

In 2017, after years spent looking into the SARS epidemic that tore through China a decade-and-a-half earlier, a team of researchers thought they may have discovered the origins of the disease: a cave in Yunnan province crowded with different species of horseshoe bats. The researchers wrote that they had discovered in the bats the genomes of several different coronaviruses, and in these genetic codes, the of the virus that had infected more than 8,000 people years earlier, killing 774 of them.

365彩票合法吗There was uncertainty about how SARS had travelled from the Yunnan cave to Guangdong, where it was first reported in late 2002. But one thing is clear: Bat coronaviruses can infect humans. Some villagers around Yunnan bat caves to the bat diseases. In the case of SARS, researchers think the civet, a cat-like wild animal that’s in some parts of China, played the role of intermediary host, spreading the bat virus to humans.

The wildlife trade may also have played a part in spreading the new coronavirus, formally called COVID-19, to people in Wuhan, China, where the first cases were reported. Given the alarming headlines about the coronavirus outbreak365彩票合法吗 and the consumption of wildlife, the tradition of so-called wet markets, where wild animals are sold, now faces harsh scrutiny. But eating wildlife is not the only way diseases can spread from animals to people, nor are respiratory viruses like the new coronavirus the only diseases that we should be concerned about when it comes to eating meat. The world’s system of animal husbandry, food production, and food distribution has certainly been linked before to deadly microbes, such as strains of E.coli.

Selling and eating wild animals, disrupting ecosystems, and destroying forests all contribute to the risks of novel deadly microbes spreading . Just as worrisome is the impact that raising hundreds or thousands of domesticated animals in densely packed quarters has on the worsening problem of drug-resistant microbes. While the new coronavirus in China has killed more than 1,300 people, about in the United States die each year after developing drug-resistant infections.

365彩票合法吗Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem in China, as well. The country’s appetite for meat has increased as it becomes more affluent, as is the case in other developing countries. Meat provides essential micronutrients and is an important part of many cuisines. People in the United States and other rich countries consume much more meat per capita than individuals living in the developing world. Indeed, the affluent are in no moral position to make demands about what others

Does the consumption of wild animals (aka bushmeat) pose special risks with regard to public health? Bushmeat consumption is common in African and Asian countries, especially in China. It’s an important source of protein and provides food security for poor people living in rural areas. Outbreaks of diseases like Ebola, however, have been linked to eating it. (While domesticated animals harbor microbes that can cause foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli, wild animals harbor deadly microbes, including novel viruses such as influenza, Ebola, and Nipah, that can spill over into domesticated animals and humans.)

China may now be clamping down on the wet markets that sell wild animals, something that has been tried on a temporary basis before. The emergence of SARS in 2003 prompted the government to ban the wet markets, but that effort failed, and led to a rise in . In the current crisis, China has once again , at least until the epidemic is over. But there are signs that the government may adopt more stringent policies .

Meat production has grown 68 percent in Asia over the last 20 years, and the continent is home to a majority of the world’s chicken and pigs. Asian countries like India and China are working to improve poor sanitation and hygiene, but both of them also use massive and have very high rates of . China’s decisions on wildlife in wet markets won’t change that.

Consuming less meat (and raising fewer animals for food) could . (Interestingly, India, which has, by far, the highest percentage of vegetarians in its population, at 38 percent, hasn’t had the same coronavirus spillover events like China, despite also having wet markets.)  China’s decision on how to handle the wildlife trade could affect the likelihood of another outbreak of something like the coronavirus. How the world handles the production and distribution of domesticated animals, however, may be just as consequential a decision.

Antimicrobial resistance doesn’t receive the same intense level of media coverage as the new coronavirus. Nevertheless, the global demand for animal proteins, whether from domesticated or wild animals, is growing and becoming unsustainable. Promoting meat alternative365彩票合法吗s or vegetarian diets might be a step in the right direction.


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Allan Lindh
Allan Lindh

365彩票合法吗I have seen one report that the current Corona virus has been traced to a creature called a “Scaly anteater”. (). Article says it is the most trafficked animal in world, for “scales and meat.” Seems a plausible candidate.


365彩票合法吗If it was, then you’d see outbreaks happening in other parts of the world or other cities in Asia. This is a Wuhan specific source, so I don’t buy that. It’s a bit too convenient.


Poor logic. For example, the African Swine Flu had a single point of origin and then spread from there. It does not mean that there are suddenly outbreaks of the same version of swine flu in other parts of the world. It has to get there first. Corona virus is very common in animals. It usually does not spread between species, although on occasion it does happen. Ie the dog corona virus can infect cats and vice versa. But the cow corona virus does not infect either of them, nor does the pig corona variety infect any of these three… Read more »


Illegal pangolin trade is problematic in Asia. Probably an attempt to scare people to stop using pangolin products. Not a bad strategy.


Ahhh, hidden vegan messages… More processed foods is not the answer either. Stopping overconsumption is a far more sensible answer and would reduce the number of animals raised considerably. In the end even that is not enough. It is the massive scale at a single location often plus overcrowding due to profit factors that favors spread of disease, especially something as highly infectious as the corona virus. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a renaissance of smaller farms in a couple of decades. Plant based diets are no less dangerous. Botulism can also affect plant based foods, or listeria,… Read more »


There may be risks, but of course the risks are much lower than from meat. Loads of those E coli outbreaks originated from animals.

And how does plant eating mean more processing?


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