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It's time to permanently ban wildlife trade

By Wu Yong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-01-27 10:35

Wild animals sold at a seafood market in Wuhan could be the source of the outbreak, Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news briefing in Beijing. [Photo/Xinhua]

No trading, no killing.

This time it's not only about the lives of wild animals but also humans.

Illegal wildlife trade in a Wuhan seafood wholesale market has opened up a pandora's box, killed 56 people and nearly triggered a WHO global warning in less than three months.

We should make every effort to prevent and control the plague. But at the same time, we need to go back to the source of the tragedy and fundamentally break the vicious circle from wildlife to deadly plague.

Because preliminary research shows that the chrysanthemum head bat may be the most likely culprit in Wuhan, which is the same as SARS in 2003. Both of the viruses were transmitted by bat to wild animals and then to human beings.

Previously, it was the Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that first revealed in 2013 that the source of the SARS virus was the chrysanthemum head bat. This kind of bat can be found in Southeast China and Southwest China.

Paradoxically, it is less than 15 kilometers from the Wuhan seafood wholesale market to the Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which is one of nation's most advanced virus research institutes in China.

A researcher from the Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences warned in 2018 that "although SARS has not made a comeback for so many years, in nature, viruses similar to SARS still exist. If we humans do not pay attention to such a potential threat, the next viral infection may come and infect humans through other animals. It is just around the corner."

In less than one year, her words came true.

In fact, the past decade saw an increase in new infectious diseases around the world including the bird flu, Ebola and MERS. These new infectious diseases are all related to animals. And research shows that more than 70 percent of new infectious diseases come from wildlife.

The capture, transportation, trade and slaughter of wild animals all may contribute to the occurrence of plague. What should be blamed are wildlife markets, restaurants and gluttonous individuals, but not bats.

Stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

More serious epidemics will be waiting for us at the next turn if we can't ban the trade of wild animals permanently and comprehensively.

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