Snakes, Wolf Puppies and Rats Sold at Market Where Coronavirus Originated
A menu filled with a variety of exotic wild animals was reportedly sold at a market in Wuhan, Hubei province, China where the coronavirus originated.
Some of the wild animal meat mentioned on the price list of a vendor at the Huanan Seafood Market includes live foxes, crocodiles, wolf puppies, giant salamanders, snakes, rats, peacocks, porcupines and camels.
There are a total of 112 items mentioned on the list, according to AFP via Straits Times.
“Freshly slaughtered, frozen and delivered to your door,” the price list of the vendor said. “Wild Game Animal Husbandry for the Masses.”
Although the exact source of the outbreak remains undetermined, Dr. Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese center for disease control and prevention, said in Beijing on Wednesday that authorities believe the virus most likely came from “wild animals at the seafood market.”
However, AFP was unable to directly confirm the authenticity of the circulating list as the news agency’s phone call to the vendors went unanswered and attempts to reach them via social media were rejected.
The same vendor’s now-shuttered storefront was shown in the picture posted by Beijing News on Tuesday while authorities wearing white hazmat suits investigated. It also quoted merchants saying the trade in wildlife took place until the market was shut down for disinfection shortly after the outbreak.
Sellers in the market were the first few people to become infected with the virus when they fell ill between Dec. 12 and Dec. 29. Earlier this month, a total of 59 people had been infected, but recent reports show that 571 people have now also been infected in just a few weeks, while 17 deaths have been recorded, CNN reported.
People in China and other Asian countries continue to practice the consumption of many exotic animals that some consider a delicacy or attribute to positive health benefits not yet proven by science.
However, the practice brings growing health risks to humans, according to Dr. Christian Walzer, executive director of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society’s Health Program. About 70% of all new infectious diseases come from wildlife and chances of the spreading of pathogens increases with habitat encroachment.
“Wildlife markets offer a unique opportunity for viruses to spill over from wildlife hosts,” the doctor said. “It is essential to invest resources not only into discovering new viruses, but more importantly, in determining the epidemiological drivers of… (the) spillover, amplification, and spread of infectious diseases.”