Animal-human interface acts as primary source of emerging zoonotic diseases, including Covid-19: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on December 03, 2020

‘A permanent ban on trade in wild animals for human consumption should not be imposed; rather it should be regulated’

A team of researchers at the ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute are trying to understand the role of animals and the associated zoonotic links of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study, published in the journal Veterinary Quarterly, stated that the Covid-19 outbreak once again proves the potential of the animal-human interface to act as the primary source of emerging zoonotic diseases.

It added that even though circumstantial evidence suggests the possibility of an initial zoonotic emergence, it is too early to confirm the role of intermediate hosts such as snakes, pangolins, turtles, and other wild animals in the origin of SARS-CoV-2, in addition to bats, the natural hosts of multiple coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV.

Also read: Wildlife trade plays pivotal role in animal to human transmission of bacteria, virus: Study

The researchers further speculated that the culinary habits of Chinese people involve the consumption of wild animal meat. The common motivation responsible for human consumption of wild animal meat in China is their belief that such meats have medicinal value.

The scientists noted that the bat has been reported as the reservoir source of SARS-CoV-2. The intermediate host is not yet elucidated clearly and presently snake and/or pangolins are reported to be the intermediate hosts. Reports regarding the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from human to animal have been speculated.

The study also shows that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in pigs, chicken, and ducks while ferrets and cats are susceptible.

Prevention of outbreaks

“To apply any prevention measure, the first and foremost step is to diagnose the case with accuracy and speed,” the researchers added.

Also read: Australian PM Scott Morrison demands inquiry into the origin of Covid-19

Furthermore, the researchers believe that a permanent ban on wild animal trade should not be implemented. It will only shift the trade to the black market. It is crucial to regulate the trade of wild animal species rather than impose a complete ban.

“The emergence of newer zoonotic infections like SARS-CoV-2 is inevitable in future. Hence, local and international regulatory authorities need to develop and implement robust disease control mechanisms that effectively decrease the possibility of human exposure to wild animals,” the researchers added.

Published on December 03, 2020

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