• Dr Dewan SIbartie

Does the new coronavirus discovered in China have an animal source?


The Civet cat, the source of SARS

Media reports as well as information provided by Health Authorities in China tend to point in that direction.

The new coronavirus seems to be spreading fast in China and has already been confirmed in several other countries including the USA, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. There also seems to be plenty of evidence indicating human to human transmission and the disease is about to be declared an international public health emergency.

The new virus is closely linked to 2 other coronaviruses namely those that caused MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) which have been associated to animal sources and have caused human casualties in many countries of the world.

Media reports confirm that the new corona virus has first been recovered from a seafood market in Yuhan and from there has spread to other regions. It is speculated that these markets have been illegally selling a variety of animals including wild exotic animals such as civet cats that provoked SARS and the sale of which has been banned in China. Health professionals in China strongly believe that the close interaction of people with these animals of unknown health status provide an ideal means of transmission of pathogens from animals to humans.

While the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is strictly following the recommendations of the WHO, it is strongly advised that the Veterinary Services of Mauritius apply a temporary ban on food of animal origin coming from affected regions of China.

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