The Covid 19 and the SARS outbreak of 2003 have two things in common: Both are from the coronavirus family, and both have been associated with animals commonly sold in “wet markets.”
What are wet markets?
- Wet markets are so called because of the ice used to conserve fresh foods and additionally due to the constant hosing down of the floor and walls to remove the blood, urine and entrails of animals brought to the market live, to be slaughtered upon purchase. We are not just talking about chickens, pigs or rabbits reared in small holdings. That would be bad and cruel enough, but alongside these animals are wild animals, either caught in the region, or illegally trafficked from Africa. Feral and domesticated dogs and cats, and also snakes are commonly sold.
Wet markets are breeding grounds for coronaviruses such as Covid 19 and SARS, which originated in China in 2003. Coronaviruses are zoonotic diseases which means they jump from animals to people.
- .Such markets put people and live and dead animals — dogs, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, and more — in constant close contact. That makes it easy for zoonotic diseases to spread.
- “Poorly regulated, live-animal markets mixed with illegal wildlife trade offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts into the human population,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.
In the case of SARS and the new coronavirus disease, called COVID-19, bats were the original hosts. The bats then infected other animals, which transmitted the disease to humans.
The orthodox thinking at the moment is that the current outbreak may have started at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, which was shuttered on January 1st. Wuhan authorities banned the trade of live animals at all wet markets there soon after, and China announced a temporary national ban on the buying, selling, and transportation of wild animals in markets, restaurants, and online marketplaces across the country as well.
However, research since then has indicated that the market may not have been the origin of the outbreak, but it is accepted that the practices in the markets are time bombs just waiting to explode..
I am aware of competing theories regarding the source of the disease. When there is proof I will comment on it, but two facts are irrefutable- the disease has its origins in China’s malpractice and bats are the source.
Since the outbreak began, Chinese authorities have shut down 20,000 farms raising peacocks, civet cats, porcupines, ostriches, and wild geese, The Guardian reported.
SARS originated in wet markets in the province of Guangdong. It killed 774 people across 29 countries from 2002 to 2003.
In the case of SARS, humans caught the virus from weasel-like mammals called masked palm civets. This image is from 2004,
But the civets weren’t the original hosts of the disease.
Researchers discovered that SARS originally came from a population of bats in China’s Yunnan province.
“Coronaviruses like SARS circulate in bats and every so often become introduced into the human population Bats can pass along viruses in their droppings: If they drop feces onto a piece of fruit that a civet then eats, the civet can become a disease carrier.
Bats and birds are considered reservoir species for viruses with pandemic potential, according to Bart Haagmans, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
“Because these viruses have not been circulating in humans before, specific immunity to these viruses is absent in humans.
A group of researchers from South China Agricultural University found that samples of coronaviruses taken from wild pangolins and those from infected coronavirus patients were 99% identical.
The pangolin is an endangered mammal which resembles a scaly anteater. The trade and consumption of pangolins is illegal under China’s Wildlife Protection Law, but they are still known to be roasted and eaten in China, Vietnam, and parts of West Africa. Pangolin scales have also been used in traditional Chine
There have been many eminent epidemiologists predicting ‘pandemic X’ for a number of years now.