Vietnam News: Study Finds That Bats and Rats Laden With Coronaviruses Still Being Sold For Food In Vietnam
: Vietnamese researchers in a study highlights how wild animal trade that increases risk of humans becoming infected by diseases such as Covid-19 are still being conducted in various markets across Vietnam.
Rats Being Sold At A Market In Vietnam, Credit: WCS
In the study, various other coronaviruses were found in animals being sold in 58 out of 70 sites studied in the south of the country and this increases the risk of transmitting new coronavirus diseases such to humans. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0237129
Despite the study being conducted between 2013 and 2014, when the researchers revisited the sites the last few weeks, trade was still the same if not had grown with more of such stalls.
The research was based on an analysis of animals collected in southern Vietnam in which the study team scientists found various coronavirus strains in bats and rats sold for food.
The study team warned that “Human behavior is facilitating the spillover of viruses, such as coronavirus, from animals to human. The ever growing wildlife trade supply chain from the field to restaurant and end consumer provides multiple opportunities for such spillover events to occur.”
The present COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent example of how coronaviruses that originate in animals have caused deadly diseases in humans.
Also the 2003 SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak was probably caused by a coronavirus that originated in bats, while camels were a major host for the virus that caused the MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
The 2019 coronavirus outbreak caused by the SAR-CoV-2 pathogen was first reported in a seafood and animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Even though the exact source of the novel coronavirus remains unclear, research suggests that it is likely to have come from bats in Asia.
The study team included researchers from the non-governmental group Wildlife Conservation Society and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.
The study team examined wild rats sold as food at markets and restaurants in three provinces in southern Vietnam as well as bats raised for their guano a much valued fertilizer.
Significantly out of the 70 sites sampled, various coronaviruses were detected in 58, including all of the 24 live rat trade sites, 17 of the 28 rodent wildlife farm sites and 16 of the 17 bat guano farms, and at the one natural pteropid bat roost.
While the strains of the coronaviruses found were not human pathogens, the researchers warned that the poor condition of the captured animals, the mixture of different species and their contacts with traders and consumers increased the risk of viruses crossing to humans.
Alarmingly in some incidences, bat or avian coronaviruses were found in rodents raised on wildlife farms, a dangerous mixture that raises the risk of the viruses combining, which increases the
risk to humans.
Corresponding researcher, Amanda E. Fine from the Wildlife Conservation Society told Thailand Medical News, “The high proportion of coronavirus positive samples at these human-wildlife interfaces highlights the potential for human exposure to wildlife origin coronaviruses.”
She further warned, “Livestock and humans living in close contact with rodents, bats, and birds shedding coronaviruses provides opportunities for intra and inter-species transmission and potential recombination of coronaviruses.”
The researchers strongly advocate restrictions on “the killing, commercial breeding, transport, buying, selling, storage, processing and consuming of wild animals” to minimize public health risks in future.
Although the current Covid-19 pandemic has prompted governments to impose stricter bans on wildlife trade, it remains to be seen if such bans could be enforced in regions where the consumption of animals like rats and snakes has long been popular.
The Vietnamese government, which had been accused of turning a blind eye towards wildlife trade in the past, in July vowed to eliminate illegal wildlife markets.
However the researchers are skeptical anything could be done to stop the locals in the far rural regions and cities from stopping these practices unless harsh laws were imposed.
For more Vietnam News
, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.