The World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups are calling for the suspension in sales of captured live animals due to the risk they pose in spreading infectious diseases.
“Animals, particularly wild animals, are the source of more than 70% of all emerging infectious diseases in humans, many of which are caused by novel viruses,” the WHO said in a statement on Tuesday. “Wild mammals, in particular, pose a risk for the emergence of new diseases.”
The statement is signed by the WHO along with the World Organization for Animal Health and United Nations Environment Programme.
The groups called this guidance an “emergency measure” and said that “banning the sale of these animals can protect people’s health – both those working there and those shopping there.”
There is a risk of direct transmission to customers coming into contact with the animals’ bodily fluid at a market and a risk for handlers as animals could contaminate areas where they are being held.
The guidance comes after a WHO report found that the coronavirus likely originated from an animal.
The organization found that COVID-19 likely started in bats or another animal and possibly jumped to another animal before transmitting to humans.
Although the cause is still under investigation, the WHO report found it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus outbreak originated from a lab.