Ban live markets and wildlife trade to prevent another pandemic

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With COVID-19 ravaging the world, people are desperate to understand what caused the outbreak so we can prevent it from happening again. 

The leading theory is that the novel coronavirus first crossed over to humans from wild animals being killed and sold at a live animal market in Wuhan, China. These animal-borne illnesses are known as Zoonotic diseases, and the CDC claims “3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.”

These diseases result from the intersection of two dangerous practices: wildlife consumption and live animal markets. 

In live markets, animals are kept alongside a wide variety of species in cruel conditions that keep them weak and vulnerable to illnesses.This allows viruses and bacteria to evolve and spread between species and eventually infect humans. This problem is exacerbated when the animals being sold are a wild species and don’t often interact with humans. 

On Feb 10th, more than 200 organizations and individuals issued an open letter to the WHO, UN, and OIE, urging global action to close live wildlife markets and wildlife trade, noting also the practice’s major contribution to the global decline in wildlife and biodiversity. Nothing has been done. 

On April 8th, US Senator Cory Booker spearheaded a letter with over 60 other bipartisan lawmakers urging the WHO to condemn these markets. Nothing has been done. 

Live animal markets, wherever they are in the world, contain stressed, sick animals caged in close proximity, in a practice that offers the ideal breeding ground for deadly pathogens. Intolerably cruel conditions aside, these markets present a global health risk of which we’re starting to see the consequences. 

As long as these markets are operating and people are consuming wild animals, we are at risk for another, possibly worse, pandemic. 

Please take action and urge the World Health Organization, United Nations, and the World Organization for Animal Health to protect our most vulnerable and call for an international ban on live animal markets and wildlife consumption.