The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, has banned the trade of live animals at food markets after one location was linked to the spread of the disease
Police in the central Chinese city were conducting checks to ensure that the rule was enforced by the city’s roughly 11 million residents, the BBC said Wednesday, citing state media reports.
The move comes after the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan was shuttered on January 1, after it was believed to be the starting point for the outbreak of 2019-nCov, also known as the Wuhan virus.
Before its closure, the market was selling an array of unusual animals for food, including young wolves and civet cats, which experts believe could play a part in the spread of disease.
So far, the disease has killed at least nine people and infected over 440 others.
The virus has also been transmitted in other Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shenzhen, as well as to South Korea, Thailand, Japan, and the US.
„The evidence is highly suggestive that the outbreak is associated with exposures in one seafood market in Wuhan,“ the World Health Organization said in a statement.
The Huanan Seafood Market is considered to be a „wet market,“ or a place that traditionally sells dead and live animals along with other produce and goods for consumption.
Concerns about poor hygiene at these markets have been raised before, and it is possible that the virus first jumped from animal to human via meat for sale there.
A 61-year-old man was the first person to die from the virus. According to Bloomberg, he was a regular shopper at the Huanan Seafood Market.
Wet markets are a breeding ground for disease
The Huanan Seafood Market advertised a variety of live animals, including dogs, peacocks, otters, camels, and koalas, according to The South China Morning Post.
Photos posted to social media also suggest the market was selling live wolf pups and civet cats, both of which are eaten in China.
Photo from Douban of a menu at #Wuhan Huanan Seafood Market. Don’t know when it was taken, but they sell all kinds of wild animals incl. live wolf pups & palm civets. 2nd photo taken after outbreak discovered shows this storefront (3rd left) covering word “野 (wild)” in its name. pic.twitter.com/HiQlzX4XBX
— Muyi Xiao (@muyixiao) January 21, 2020
These types of markets are popular around China and can be found in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, and Shandong Province.
They can also be breeding grounds for viruses.
The H7N9 and H5N9 Bird flu were likely transmitted to humans via direct contact with infected poultry at a live bird market in China, according to WHO. The diseases killed a collective 1,000 people globally.
And SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed over 700 people on the planet between 2002 and 2003, is also SARS, is also believed to have mutated while spreading through the wet animal markets.
Wang Yuedan, a professor of immunology at Peking University’s School of Basic Medical Sciences, told Bloomberg that China’s preference for fresh and exotic meat „does make China susceptible to the risk of new virus outbreaks through close animal and human contact.“
„The same is true for Ebola, which came about as a result of eating animals from the forest in Africa,“ he said.
This content was originally published here.