This is not the first time that the transmission of diseases from wild animals to humans has been the cause of serious epidemics. Whilst still unconfirmed, there is a suspicion that this latest outbreak in China is the result of the transmission of the virus from snakes to humans.
Captive reptiles are well-documented as carriers of pathogens, such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses, that can be transferred to humans.
Terrible conditions lead to suffering and diseases
Snakes that are sold at markets, like those reported in Wuhan province, have suffered horrendous conditions before they get there. They’ve either been captured in the wild, stuffed together in bags or small cages for transportation to the market, or intensively bred in ranches and farms where they are kept in overcrowded containers.
Either way, these conditions are incubators for the transmission of disease and the evolution of more virulent pathogens.
Snakes are often sold for meat consumption in China, and there is a growing demand for snakes as pets in many cities.
Wild animals belong in the wild
Kate Nustedt, our global wildlife director, said: “Our hearts go out to everyone in China and across the world who has been affected by the coronavirus, and who is living in fear of it.
“There are very simple steps that we can all take to prevent any future outbreaks. Stop buying any wild animals, dead or alive, whether it’s a snake, bird or any other wild species.
“Wild animals belong in the wild. Life as a pet for a wild animal is the cruellest thing for them. And it could lead to serious disease outbreaks like the one we’re seeing in Wuhan.”