For communities across the world, 2020 has been a tumultuous season. The SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) distribute from a few people at a Chinese wildlife market to over 72 million people by the end of the year. Yet we were not the pandemic’s only sufferers.
Animals suffered both by getting sick with the virus and from the socioeconomic impacts of the outbreak. The pandemic also emphasized the deadly expenses of animal manipulation. Experts warn that we will need to fundamentally change our relationship with animals, particularly wildlife and farm animals, to prevent future pandemics.
The pandemic and wildlife
The present pandemic is far from the sole public health crisis traced back to wild animals. Back in 2003, SARS passed from civets to people in a Chinese wildlife marketplace.
An October report by United Nations experts cautions that wildlife consumption and trade represent one of the main dangers for future pandemics.
Wild creatures for sale at markets are usually kept in crowded conditions and slaughtered on websites, which may result in the spread of bodily fluids like feces and blood. Animal advocates have called for bans on the sale of live wild animals in markets to safeguard human health, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation. The newspaper was sent to authorities around the world, requesting them to take action. In the United States, the HSUS is advocating for the passage of this Preventing Future Pandemics Act of 2020, which would ban the import, sale, and export of certain live wildlife for human consumption.
The pandemic and animals raised for fur
Mink fur farms in the Netherlands, U.S., Denmark, France, Spain, Sweden, Lithuania, Greece, Poland, and Italy have experienced outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2. Countless mink died from the virus from the U.S. alone after infected mink were found on fur farms in Wisconsin, Utah, Michigan, and Oregon.
Veterinary professionals together with the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association notice that it is not surprising that fur farms have experienced outbreaks of the virus. Similar to forest markets, animals in fur farms tend to be housed in crowded conditions where they are exposed to bodily fluids. A Humane Society International/U. K. investigation of a Finnish fur farm in 2019 found foxes and mink experiencing gaping wounds and eye ailments and dead creatures lying in cages, occasionally being eaten by other animals. Inhumane living conditions might increase anxiety levels, consequently weakening the animals’ immune systems and making them more susceptible to this virus.
The pandemic and animals used in research
Scientists working to understand the virus and examine vaccines use animals such as mice, mice, ferrets, and primates as research subjects. Specifically, primates are used to test the efficacy of vaccines because of their genetic similarity to humans. Scientists have used numerous primates for COVID-19 study that laboratories claim they’re experiencing monkey shortages. But Lindsay Marshall, biomedical science advisor at the HSUS and Humane Society International, states that animal study has its limitations.
“These are creatures, they have the illness differently than us, they recover otherwise than us and they are simply different,” Marshall says. Most monkey species get only mildly ill from COVID-19 and do not suffer certain severe symptoms that lots of people do, which hampers researchers’ capacity to understand how the disease impacts human bodies.
The pandemic and companion animals
In April the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the first instances of SARS-CoV-2 from U.S. pets: 2 cats living in separate houses in New York, one of whom had an owner that had tested positive for the virus. In June, a dog tested positive after a few of his owners were ill with COVID-19.
Although other cats and dogs have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the number of verified cases is extremely low compared to the number of pets in the U.S. There are an estimated 89 million pet dogs and 94 million pet cats in the U.S., but just 49 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in cats and 35 confirmed cases in dogs. Veterinarians believe companion creatures aren’t that prone to SARS-CoV-2, although cats are thought to be at a greater risk than dogs. While there’s a very small risk of transmission from humans to companion animals, there’s no proof that companion animals can transmit the virus to humans. The CDC recommends COVID-19 patients avoid contact with their pets also have others care for the animals, if possible.
The pandemic and animals raised for food
As crazy animal meat gained enhanced scrutiny throughout the pandemic, people also began to rethink their consumption of animals such as chickens, cows, pigs, and fish. A May poll indicates that 52 percent of respondents think the food sector should focus more on plant-based foods. Revenue of plant-based meats and kale have jumped because of the onset of the pandemic.
While SARS-CoV-2 was traced to wildlife, ago zoonotic disease outbreaks–such as avian flu and swine flu–originated from farm animal surgeries. As in other animal industries, nearly all farm animals are confined in crowded, stressful conditions conducive to the spread of disease. The United Nations report notes that the growth and intensification of agriculture is one of the chief drivers of potential pandemic threat and livestock are among the most probable reservoirs of pathogens that might result in a future pandemic.