BOSTON- April 6, 2020 – In light of World Health Day on April 7, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, FOUR PAW joined 240 other international organizations, sent a joint letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO) asking for a global ban on wild animal markets. With a growing demand for markets that sell live and dead wild animals such as pangolins, turtles, tigers and bats for human consumption or traditional medicine, there has never been a greater need to ban such practices consideringthe current global pandemic, and to help prevent future pandemics.
Studies have proven wildlife markets are the perfect environment for pathogens like viruses or bacteria to jump from animals to humans thus posing a serious risk to human health. According to scientific journal Nature, 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic and 70 per cent of these are thought to originate from wild animals.
The risk of zoonotic disease transmission increases due to the severely unhygienic conditions associated with wildlife markets. Animals are crammed together in tiny spaces in the frequently crowded markets. The close proximity to humans provides the perfect opportunity for pathogens to spread. The animals have weak immune systems as a result of inadequate care, stress and trauma. They are prone to disease, which further exacerbates the risk for humans.
“It’s not the first time that infectious diseases have been linked to wild animals. The recent epidemics SARS-CoV 1, which jumped from bats to civet cats and then to humans, and MERS-CoV, which was transmitted to humans from camels, as well as Ebola and HIV are all zoonotic diseases. These and many other infectious diseases show that zoonoses pose a huge public health risk. As long as wildlife markets exist, they won’t be the last. It would be extremely negligent of the WHO to dismiss the opportunity to help prevent future pandemics,”
-Kieran Harkin, Head of Wild Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.
Risk of disease transmission is prevalent across all aspects of wild animal products trade.