Coronavirus outbreak in China a wake-up call


Seventeen years after the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003, the first global pandemic of the 21st century, another novel zoonotic coronavirus has been reported from Wuhan, China.
Again, initial human cases have been traced to a local market where a variety of live animals were sold.
During the SARS outbreak, about 11 per cent of those infected with the virus had died. Scientists linked the early cases of SARS to wildlife markets and restaurants in Guangdong, China, after researchers found SARS-like coronaviruses in animals, including masked palm civets and a raccoon dog.
But, as yet, there is no scientific evidence that the new virus has been isolated from any animal although a recent report stated that “15 environmental specimens collected in the western section (of the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) were positive for 2019-nCoV virus through RT-PCR testing and genetic sequencing analysis”. The report continues: “Despite extensive searching, no animal from the market has thus far been identified as a possible source of infection.”
The Wuhan virus outbreak has reminded us of the Salmonella virus detected in raw chicken at markets in Yangon last year. The finding, disclosed at the 48th Myanmar Health Research Congress last year, had sparked concern among people.
But, the virus is no longer a threat to Myanmar people who cook meat well.
Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.
The current concerns of countries, especially those neighboring China, such as Myanmar, involve the Wuhan virus outbreak.
Some wildlife species, including bats and snakes, were, at first, selected as the source of the virus. But, animals testing positive for the virus may not be the source of the current outbreak.
Nevertheless, we have to hope that the coronavirus outbreak serves as a wake-up call for the regulation of wildlife trade and animal health, and the safety of food and biosecurity in markets.
Severe action should be taken against the sale of meat without a proper production chain in place and illegal wildlife trade.
Action is urgently needed to protect human health and the environment.

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