66 U.S. Lawmakers Demand Global Wet Market Ban to Stop Pandemics
A group of bipartisan lawmakers are calling for a ban on live wildlife markets. | whiz-ka / Flickr

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, 66 U.S. lawmakers are demanding a global ban on “wet markets” to prevent future pandemics.

On Wednesday, Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spearheaded a letter to the director-generals of the World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health, and the United Nations. It urges them to “take aggressive action” toward a ban on global live animal markets.

“As this pandemic continues to threaten the lives of millions, pushes healthcare systems to the breaking point,” the letter reads, “and devastates economies around the world, it is imperative that we all take action as a global community to protect public health.”

According to Worldometers, there have been more than 1,500,00 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 93,00 deaths worldwide.

‘Prime Transmission Locations’

Experts believe that the coronavirus originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China last December.

“Scientists studying zoonotic diseases – diseases that jump between animals and humans – have pointed to the close proximity of shoppers, vendors, and both live and dead animals at wildlife markets in countries around the world as prime transmission locations for these pathogens,” the letter continues.

66 U.S. Lawmakers Demand Global Wet Market Ban to Stop Pandemics
Disease can spread easily at wet markets.

‘A Threat to Global Public Health’

The letter goes on to describe live wildlife markets as a “threat to public health.”

At these markets, many vendors store animals in close quarters, allowing for the easy spread of disease. Humans can be infected by zoonotic diseases through “fluids like blood, saliva, and excrement into the air.” It’s for reasons such as this that experts have warned that new viruses may emerge from pig factory farms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. Approximately 72 percent originate from wildlife. Experts believe that in the future, the majority of emerging infectious diseases will be zoonotic.

Animals are the origin of many modern pandemics, including the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak. Scientists traced its origin to bats. They believe that bats may have originated from bats as well. China banned the wildlife trade following the outbreak, but the lawmakers note that there are “significant loopholes” in the law.

“It is clear that to protect human health, these close and sustained interactions with wildlife must stop,” the letter concludes.