Doctors are urging the U.S. Surgeon General to shut down live animal markets amid the current coronavirus outbreak.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)—a nonprofit health organization of 12,000 physicians that promotes plant-based, preventative medicine—filed the petition on Tuesday.
“We just filed a petition urging the Surgeon General to immediately shut down U.S. live animal markets to protect public health and prevent future pandemics,” PCRM tweeted.
The petition is signed by 225 physicians, including Eric J. Brandt, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine, and Michelle L. O’Donoghue, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School.
The COVID-19 outbreak is believed to have originated from a wet market in Wuhan, China last December. Wet markets sell live and dead fish and wild animals, including snakes and bats for human consumption.
Live animal markets aren’t exclusive to China. They are located around the world, including Europe and the U.S.
“Live animal markets are a welcome mat to coronaviruses,” the doctors state in the petition. “The failure to close a single live animal market in China led to a pandemic that has closed countless businesses worldwide and led to an enormous death toll and economic havoc.”
The petition states that in order to prevent another viral pandemic in the U.S., the Surgeon General must ban “the sale, transfer, donation, other commercial or public offering, or transportation, in interstate or intrastate commerce, of live birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians to retail facilities that hold live animals intended for human consumption.”
World Health Organization Urged To Ban Wet Markets
According to Worldometers, there are currently more than 1,450,000 total cases of coronavirus around the world. More than 83,600 people have died and more than 310,000 have recovered.
In order to help prevent future outbreaks, activists are also urging the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for a shut down of live animal markets.
Activists launched a petition online demanding the WHO to call for an end to live animal markets. The petition states that markets are breeding grounds for zoonotic diseases. Zoonotic diseases—such as the coronavirus, SARS, and Ebola—can jump the species barrier from animals to humans.