Coronavirus fears: Fur farms could pose next pandemic threat

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Coronavirus has infected more than 23 million people worldwide since December last year and has led to a death toll in excess of 818,000. Scientists believe the virus passed between different animal species and then was able to make the jump to humans in the wet markets of Wuhan, China. The pandemic has raised awareness of the risks posed to a global society with free movement, which can help a deadly disease spread more easily. Healthcare infrastructure and security in many nations has improved in its wake as well as to keep up with treatment for those who have unfortunately contracted COVID-19. But while countries may be better prepared for the next deadly outbreak, it is not known where it will begin. 

For much of this year, many have looked with increased scrutiny upon locations where zoonotic diseases can spread – many of them have similar conditions to the Wuhan wet markets.

Future outbreaks are inevitable, according to world renowned pathologist Dr Syra Madad, who previously told Express.co.uk that more than 200 viruses could develop into the next pandemic. 

She said: “If you see the number of infectious outbreaks around the world, it’s only a matter of time before we see another outbreak like coronavirus.

“We have the perfect ingredients for this to happen because we live in a global world where in 36 hours one outbreak can reach every continent. 

“Coronavirus shows us what a tiny virus that we can’t see with the naked eye can do and the enormous amount of havoc it can cause.”

As many look for ways to prevent potential zoonotic transmissions, PETA revealed that a number of wet markets around the world had reopened – despite their feared link to the outbreak.

Dr Carys Bennett told Express.co.uk: “PETA Asia investigated in China, Vietnam and other countries and found awfully unsanitary conditions.

“Bloodied surfaces and floors cramped together with chickens, dogs and other animals. PETA India found similar things. 

“It’s shocking, this has made world news, killed over 800,000 people with the death toll rising, it’s impacted jobs sectors and people have lost jobs by the millions – we can’t afford to keep these places open for our health and animals as a society.”

Dr Bennett added that live animal market traders could “swap and change their livelihoods” to sell products “without animal suffering”; as many sell other items including fruits, vegetables, dried goods and clothes.

She highlighted fur farms as the location that some fear as a potential site for a future outbreak. 

Dr Bennett added: “There are fur farms and intensive animal farms around the world… another viral infection could be worse than this one.

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“Bird flu, for example, has a 60 percent mortality rate in humans and coronavirus is two or three percent, so it’s pretty deadly.”

She also expressed concern about the trade of exotic animals – where crocodiles, snakes, alligators, reptiles and other animals are often caged closely together before they are sold to individuals. 

Dr Bennett also explained that PETA US discovered a number of the animals were “kept in appalling conditions, cramped in” and where “diseases were rife”.

She added: “It’s not just one species or another that is most at risk, it’s any where animals are being held together closely – especially when they are stressed and sick, these are the perfect conditions for zoonotic diseases to occur.”

Fears about fur farms’ link to coronavirus prompted the government in the Netherlands to vow to end mink breeding by the end of this year. 

They previously set a deadline to close them by 2024 but in the wake of COVID-19 cases – where workers contracted the virus from minks – they voted for hastier change. 

PETA previously detailed how the animals struggled in small cages where they were left to “go insane in hellish, filthy conditions that are breeding grounds for disease”.

This followed warnings from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that 75 percent of the most recent emerging infectious diseases originated from animals.

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