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April 13, 2021 – World Health Organization (WHO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have issued interim guidance on reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild mammals in traditional food markets around the world.

Among other measures, the guidance calls on countries to suspend the sale of captured live wild mammals in food markets as an emergency measure.

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. Wild mammals, in particular, pose a risk for the emergence of new diseases. They come into markets without any way to check if they carry dangerous viruses.

There is a risk of direct transmission to humans from coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucus, faeces, or other body fluids of an infected animal, and an additional risk of picking up the infection from contact with areas where animals are housed in markets or objects or surfaces that could have been contaminated with such viruses. 

Globally, traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations. Banning the sale of these animals can protect people’s health – both those working there and those shopping there.

The Interim Guidance is available here: 

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-Food-safety-traditional-markets-2021.1

Relevant links: 

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/zoonoses

https://www.who.int/health-topics/food-safety/