Wet markets, public slaughterhouses where animals of many species are clustered in contact with humans, secretions, and other dead animals. In these markets, animals are killed directly due to human demand. Wet markets sell living and dead animals for human consumption, and even the name “wet market” comes from the blood and organs of the slaughtered. Animals like turtles, fish, bats, and chickens are all sold at places like these. Amid our current health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we must listen to nature’s calling for us to stop the consumption of sacred, sentient life.
When disregarding the interests of individuals, we all pay the price. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, United Nations’ biodiversity chief, told The Guardian, “The message we are getting is if we don’t take care of nature, it will take care of us.” World leaders are calling for wet markets to be shut down; will we come together with the Earth to create a home safe for all beings or will we turn a blind eye amid a health crisis caused by ignorance such as this?
6 in 10 infectious diseases are derived from animals. Throughout the course of history, SARS, MERS, Avian Flu, Swine Flu, Ebola (and now COVID-19) all have zoonotic origins. The call to stop exploiting animals have never been clearer; science has told us the deadly effects of consuming animals, by ignoring this wake-up call to the despicable actions against animals, society faces the ultimate punishment.
A significant virus that affected human life was the avian flu. The avian flu has over 144 different strains. Specifically, the H5N1 variety kills almost all birds and is deadly to humans, killing 60% of people who contract it. Even the biggest pandemic in history, The Spanish Flu of 1918, began as the avian flu, which bloomed in wet market conditions.
Dr. Anthony Fauci calls on health officials to shut down these cruel, virus-brewing hotspots stating, “It boggles my mind how when we have so many diseases that emanate out of that unusual human animal interface that we don’t just shut it down.” COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2, is a mutation of another deadly pandemic, SARS. Unsurprisingly, the outbreak of SARS in 2002 came from a wet market that bred the virus between bats and civets.
Almost all major viruses have been rooted in zoonotic transmission because of animal trade and consumption. All sentient beings have interests that must be acknowledged, or we will have to suffer the consequences. Wet markets are the roots of deadly virus outbreaks. Time and time again human beings have proven that our own despicable actions against our planet come with a price. Taking accountability for these actions is a necessary step for the future of life and our planet as we now it.
Wet markets also have a significant impact on the environment, as many animals killed and sold are taken from the wild. Wet markets across the world are harming biodiversity. Massive amounts of animals are being removed from their habitats which causes a major disturbance in vital land, or as we commonly refer to it, land degradation.
We cannot shift blame from country to country when we are all responsible for the zoonotic transmission of these deadly viruses. Zoonotic viruses cannot be labeled as a direct result of one country or from one consumed animal, but we must identify and dismantle the problem as a whole. There are over 80 wet markets in New York alone. Being one of the most populated states, this area alone poses a big threat to zoonotic transmission.
Humans must be held accountable for their compliance to the death of our planets. There is no difference between a wet market selling rabbits in China versus a live market selling chickens in the United States. To stop the spread of zoonotic viruses, we must do more than eradicate certain wet markets in certain places of the world; all live-animal markets have to be abolished.