A new study brings additional concerns about wildlife trade and coronavirus. Rats in the supply chain on their way to Southeast Asia’s markets and restaurants have been found to carry coronavirus. Different strains of the coronavirus have been found in rodents, and the strain is different than the COVID-19 virus that has led to this pandemic. Still, scientists are using caution about transporting large cages of animals due to this study.

The research was done by the United States and Vietnam. The study found the proportion of coronavirus cases increased as workers moved animals from fields to markets and then to restaurants.

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Rats are a common source of protein in Asia. Rats, especially bamboo rats, have been a source of protein in China for many years and are seen as a significant source of nutrition. China breeds millions of rats annually for consumption.

“While these aren’t dangerous viruses they offer information on how viruses can be amplified under these conditions,” said Sarah Olson from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the group that led the study. 6 percent of rats tested were found to have coronaviruses. The numbers grew as the rats moved through the supply chain to 21 percent among rats handled by traders, 32 percent of rats in markets and 56 percent of rats in restaurants. Scientists believe these findings could also apply to other animals but aren’t sure yet.

Amanda Fine, also of WCS, said, “Wildlife supply chains, and the conditions the animals experience while in the supply chain, appear to greatly amplify the prevalence of coronaviruses.” China has recently taken steps to reduce the wildlife trade and consumption in its country, including removing pangolin parts from traditional medicine classifications and removing dogs from the livestock list.

Read more about protecting yourself from coronavirus. Check the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and check our latest article to learn how COVID-19 differs from the flu.

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Scientists believe that the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, started at an exotic animal market in Wuhan, China. You can help stop the incidence of viruses like these by signing this petition to ban the wildlife trade.

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