The Coronavirus pandemic has brought the Chinese wet markets to the limelight. Wuhan's infamous seafood market was said to be the epicenter of the novel coronavirus. It seems like these wet markets will get free publicity once again for all the wrong reasons.
A total of 18 mammalian viruses have been identified by an international team of scientists from China's infamous wet markets.
In the study, game animals have been unearthed by the researchers belonging from China, the US, Belgium, and Australia. These animals are commonly hunted or consumed as an exotic food in China and they are said to have been the potential reservoirs for SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. Many species have been examined by this team for the first time. Beijing has banned some of these species for trading or artificial breeding since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 1,725 game animals, representing 16 species and five mammalian orders, were sampled across China.
According to corresponding author Shuo Su from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Nanjing Agricultural University in China, 71 mammalian viruses were identified with 45 described for the first time. Eighteen viruses were considered as potentially high risk to humans and domestic animals.
Su said in the study posted on preprint server biorxiv that the team did not identify any SARS-CoV-2-like or SARS-CoV-like sequences, including the Malayan pangolins from which SARS-CoV-2-like viruses had previously been identified.
Previous virus-positive samples were all confiscated by the customs authorities in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces and that could be the reason for the lack of pangolin SARS-like viruses according to researchers.
They said that they found new samples from the Zhejiang province in eastern China which does not have an international border that would facilitate smuggling. Furthermore, the team discovered that the highest number of potentially high-risk viruses are carried by Civets (Paguma larvata). The cat-like carnivores have been known as potential reservoirs for coronavirus.
253.6 million cases of infections and 5.11 million deaths have so far been reported due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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