Study highlights need to monitor wildlife trade to curb zoonotic diseases

Study highlights need to monitor wildlife trade to curb zoonotic diseases
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It has become urgently necessary to monitor and curb the legal wildlife trade, as three new infectious human diseases have been discovered origination from animals, a research conducted by an anthropology professor at Oxford Brookes University has revealed.

Vincent Nijman, who has spent more two decades monitoring and regulating the legal wildlife trade, said “Covid-19 more than anything else has put a spotlight on emerging infectious diseases and how this is linked to the trade in wild animals. Few people are aware of its scale. With literally hundreds of millions of live wild animals being shipped around the world each year, it seems unlikely that diseases are spread through illegal channels only. After all, parasites, bacteria, and viruses do not read legal documents or check if they have received the correct stamp.”

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The illegal wildlife trade is often seen as one of the major gateways to zoonotic diseases, that spread from animals to humans.

“Given that in many instances the legal wildlife trade is several orders of magnitude larger than the illegal trade, it is ineffective and possibly dangerous to focus on the illegal wildlife trade only,” he said pointing out the illegal trade of animals that are of paramount concern for public health.

“A lack of appropriate hygiene conditions (handwashing, sanitation, separation of wildlife and their parts), make wildlife markets drivers for the transmission of infections,” he said pointing out that the lack of hygiene in wet animal market could help transmission of the disease.

“This study clearly illustrates that there are incredibly serious risks associated with the trade-in wildlife, regardless of whether the species involved are traded legally or illegally. Clearly the risk of spreading harmful zoonotic disease must be considered when regulating the trade in wildlife, and much more research and preventative measures are essential if we are to avoid further pandemics, ” Dr. Chris R. Shepherd, Expert on Wildlife Trade and Executive Director of the Monitor Conservation Research Society, said.

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