Coronavirus: Anthony Fauci calls for ban on wet markets to prevent future outbreaks of diseases from animals

He says it boggles his mind why such markets are still open when there are so many diseases that have emanated out of 'unusual human-animal interface'

                            Coronavirus: Anthony Fauci calls for ban on wet markets to prevent future outbreaks of diseases from animals
(AP Photo)

America's top health adviser and member of the White House coronavirus pandemic task force, Dr Anthony Fauci, has said that all wet markets must be shut down immediately in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Such markets put people as well as live and dead animals — dogs, bats, chickens, pigs, snakes, civets, among others — in close contact with each other. This makes it easy for a virus to jump from animals to humans, say experts.

“I think they should shut down those things (wet markets) right away. It boggles my mind how when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human-animal interface, that we don’t just shut it down. I don’t know what else has to happen to get us to appreciate that,” Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said during an interview on Fox & Friends. 

Fauci said countries should put pressure on those nations where wet markets are common. “I think there are certain countries in which this is very commonplace. I would like to see the rest of the world really lean with a lot of pressure on those countries that have that because what we’re going through right now is a direct result of that,” he added. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci speaks as  President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin look on during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, in the press briefing room of the White House on March 25, 2020 in Washington, DC (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Most viral outbreaks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, originated in animals before spreading to humans. Many experts believe that the novel coronavirus was passed from bats to a mystery animal species that then passed it on to humans. Scientists, however, have not yet determined where the virus took hold. Earlier reports had suspected that the outbreak originated from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan where bats and snakes were being sold, but experts are divided over this.

As of April 7, over 74,850 have succumbed to the novel coronavirus and more than 1,350,520 cases have been reported globally, shows the John Hopkins tracker.

Six out of every 10 infectious diseases in people spread from animals, says the US CDC. (Getty Images)

Senator Lindsey Graham has also called for the closing down of wet markets. He said that bringing wild and exotic animals to open markets for interacting with humans and other food supplies is “crazy and dangerous.” “Just spoke with Dr Fauci on a conference call about China's decision to reopen their wet markets. He emphatically stated this was a crazy decision by China which puts the world's health at risk,” Graham tweeted.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six out of every 10 infectious diseases in people spread from animals. An estimated 60 percent of infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic and about 70 percent of emerging infections in humans are zoonotic — implying illnesses that can spread between animals and people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. “Coronaviruses are zoonotic. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans,” says WHO. 

The WHO currently recommends that anyone who visits live animal markets, or wet markets, or animal product markets, should practice general hygiene measures. The guidelines also call for avoiding the consumption of raw or undercooked animal products.

“Any contact with other animals possibly living in the market (stray cats and dogs, rodents, birds, bats) should be avoided. Attention should also be taken to avoid contact with potentially contaminated animal waste or fluids on the soil or structures of shops and market facilities,” it says. 

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