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Virus renews safety concerns about slaughtering wild animals

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Virus renews safety concerns about slaughtering wild animals

FILE – In this Jan. 9, 2020, file photo provided by the Anti-Poaching Special Squad, police gather outside a store suspected of trafficking in wildlife in the city of Guangde in central China’s Anhui province. As China enforces a temporary ban on the wildlife trade to contain the outbreak of a new virus, many are calling for a more permanent solution before disaster strikes again. (Anti-Poaching Special Squad via AP, File) BEIJING — China cracked down on the sale of exotic species after an outbreak of a new virus in 2002 was linked to markets selling live animals . The germ turned out to be a coronavirus that caused SARS.

The ban was later lifted, and the animals reappeared. Now another coronavirus is spreading through China, so far killing 1,380 people and sickening more than 64,000 — eight times the number sickened by SARS.

The suspected origin? The same type of market.

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With more than 60 million people under lockdown in more than a dozen Chinese cities, the new outbreak is prompting calls to permanently ban the sale of wildlife, which many say is being fueled by a limited group of wealthy people who consider the animals delicacies. The spreading illness also serves as a grim reminder that how animals are handled anywhere can endanger people everywhere.

“There’s a vast number of viruses in the animal world that have not spread to humans, and have the potential to do so,” said Robert Webster, an expert on influenza viruses at St. Jude Children’s Research […]

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