TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the cause of the viral outbreak in Wuhan, China, being identified as human exposure to wild animals, there have been shocking revelations about the wide variety of animal meat at a local seafood market — where the new coronavirus is believed to have originated.
A photo circulating on Chinese social media platform Weibo appears to show a price list of animal meat available at a stall at the Wunan Seafood Wholesale Market, which has been indefinitely shut down since Jan. 1 for disinfection and investigation into the source of 2019-nCoV, the novel coronavirus behind the pneumonia outbreak.
On the list are more than 100 wild species not usually found on dining tables touted as being served “freshly slaughtered” at the shop. The stunning variety of species spans scorpions, peacocks, porcupines, hedgehogs, sika deer, foxes, centipedes, camels, salamanders, civets, Chinese bamboo rats, and much more.
Chinese bamboo rats, in particular, have been singled out as a possible culprit behind the new virus by renowned Chinese pulmonologist Zhong Nanshan (鍾南山). The rodent is a delicacy in China for “the tenderness and unique texture” of its meat, and raising the animal for trade has become a profitable business, reported CNA.
Accounts from Chinese netizens also indicate that live wild animals kept in cages or carcasses lying on the ground had been common sights at the market, shedding light on the poor hygienic conditions and the extent to which the illegal animal trade had been practiced at the market, wrote LTN.
The strains of coronavirus behind two previous epidemics that triggered global health scares were also associated with infections spread from wild animals. SARS and MERS were thought to have been transmitted by civets and camels, respectively.
Man looks at caged civet cats at wildlife market in Guangzhou. (AP photo)
Wuanan Seafood Wholesale Market. (AP photo)