A major nonprofit has petitioned the U.S. Surgeon General demanding an end to U.S. live animal markets.
These markets – known also as ‘wet markets’ – have made headlines recently as the coronavirus is believed to have originated from one in Wuhan, China last December. It has spread globally killing around 90,000 people at the time of writing.
Now the Physician’s Committee, whose president is Dr. Neal Barnard, and which boasts 12,000 members in the medical profession, is calling on officials to ‘prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases’ calling markets ‘a welcome mat to coronaviruses’.
The organization cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says ‘more than six out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals’.
Live animal markets in the U.S.
Live animal markets exist in countries around the world. The petition highlights the unsanitary conditions at the J&B Poultry Market (now operating under the name Shun Li Live Poultry Market/S & L Poultry Market Inc) in Philadelphia to ‘underscore the need for government action’.
The federal government filed a lawsuit against J&B Poultry Market alleging a long series of problems and violations in 2017, according to Philadelphia Magazine, alleging a long series of problems and violations.
These included inspectors from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health finding unclean ‘plucking equipment’, cages ‘encrusted with fecal matter’, and ‘slaughtering equipment encrusted with bird feathers and bird waste’.
‘A welcome mat to coronaviruses’
“Live animal markets are a welcome mat to coronaviruses. 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 doctors say in their Petition for Rulemaking.
The Petition for Rulemaking further states: “There must not be another pandemic.
“To ‘prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases’ in the United States, the Surgeon General must promulgate regulations that prohibit 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.”
The Petition for Rulemaking, which was filed on April 7, is signed by numerous physicians including Eric J. Brandt, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine, and Michelle L. O’Donoghue, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School.