Study shows raccoon dogs may have been source of spread of COVID-19

Scientists now believe the cause of the global spread of COVID-19 may have been raccoon dogs carrying the virus and sold at a Chinese market.

A new study from Oxford University, published in Science, suggests that raccoon dogs sold for their fur and meat at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, may have transmitted the virus from bats to humans, scientists said the study.

Although the theory is not fully confirmed as the animals were not tested when the pandemic began, scientists have found evidence of COVID-19 in samples tested from cages and carts used to transport the raccoon dogs in late 2019.

Chris Newman, a biologist, ecologist and research associate at the University of Oxford and co-author of the study, told USA Today: “As for the virologists, if you look at the evolutionary strain of the virus itself, that makes perfect sense (SARS-CoV -2) evolved in a bat and then spread via the raccoon dog as the primary mediator.”

Raccoon dogs sold in wet markets are kept in conditions that can encourage the spread of disease, as bacteria and viruses pass through feces and urine. The animals are then slaughtered upon purchase to provide the freshest possible meat, Newman told the news agency. Wet markets in China have since closed, but many still exist in other countries.

According to Newman, the spread of COVID by raccoon dogs is entirely plausible because the animals show no signs of illness from the virus they carry.

Many people have speculated that COVID-19 originated in a lab in Wuhan that study co-author Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist, controversial on Twitterwith all the data pointing to the Wuhan Fish Market as the starting point.

While the study cannot conclusively prove that raccoon dogs are the original source of COVID-19, Rasmussen said that “environmental samples point to the animals,” adding in a tweet, “Zoonotic radiation in Huanan is the only emergence scenario available for it.” responsible is all these threads of evidence.”

Raccoon dogs, like raccoons, are nocturnal, and Thomas Mueller, a veterinarian who has also investigated the possibility of these animals as a source of COVID-19, told USA Today, “They are not aggressive at all. You would hardly see them in nature.”

To date, about 40 million raccoon dogs are bred for their fur in China, about 99% of the world’s animal population, Mueller said.

The sale of raccoon dogs was also illegal in China, but it was an ordinance that wasn’t widely used before the pandemic began.

The markets of Wuhan are bustling with activity again

Photo: AFP / Hector RETAMAL Study shows raccoon dogs may have been source of spread of COVID-19

Fry Electronics Team

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