Tracking down the missing link in the coronavirus transmission chain

| | May 11, 2020
bats coronavirus study full
Credit: CNN
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It was a matter of “when not if” an animal passed the coronavirus from wild bats to humans, scientists say. But it remains unclear whether that animal was sold in the now infamous Wuhan wildlife market in China.

[W]ildlife markets, [professor Andrew Cunningham] explained, are hotspots for animal diseases to find new hosts. “Mixing large numbers of species under poor hygienic and welfare conditions, and species that wouldn’t normally come close together gives opportunities for pathogens to jump species to species,” he explained.

In the search for the missing link in this particular transmission chain, scientists found clues pointing to mink, ferrets and even turtles as a host. Similar viruses were found in the bodies of rare and widely trafficked pangolins, but none of these suspect species has been shown to be involved in this outbreak. What we do know is that our contact with, and trading of, wild animals puts us in the path of new diseases that are silently seeking a host.

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“Trying to make sure that we are not bringing wildlife into direct contact with ourselves or with other domestic animals is a very important part of this equation,” said Prof [James] Wood.

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