DearColleague.us

Letter

Sending Office: Honorable Michael T. McCaul
Sent By:
Thomas.Rice@mail.house.gov

STOP THE NEXT PANDEMIC BEFORE IT STARTS

Join Congressmen Quigley and McCaul, Senators Booker and Graham in writing to key international institutions about the pubic health necessity of ending the wildlife trade and the ‘wet’ markets that spawn disease.

Endorsed by: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

DEADLINE: COB TOMORROW (TUESDAY)

Current Signers: Senate: Booker, Graham, Leahy, Cramer, Van Hollen, Tillis, Coons, McSally, Hyde-Smith

House: Quigley, McCaul Fitzpatrick, Kuster, Kaptur, DelBene, Barragan, Shalala, Grijalva, Garcia (IL), Gaetz, McGovern

COVID-19, SARS, MERS, Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Zika, Ebola, and even HIV/AIDS are zoonotic diseases – diseases that jumped from animals to people- and can be traced back to close contact between wildlife and people, and even human consumption of wild animals.
Scientists estimate that approximately 60- 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, approximately 72% originate from wildlife. It is clear that the trade in these animals and the ‘wet’ markets where they are kept in close quarters to each other and
to people, and are bought, sold, and butchered, are a threat to public health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already killed thousands, disrupted the lives of billions, and cost the global economy trillions. Even as we remain committed to weathering this pandemic and recovering from it swiftly and fully, we must take steps to prevent the
next deadly disease from emerging.

Please join Congressmen Mike Quigley and Mike McCaul and Senators Corey Booker and Lindsey Graham in writing to the World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to urge
these key international organizations to take the action the necessary to end this threat to human health and stop the next pandemic before it starts.

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci
said
that that the world community should pressure China and other nations that run so-called “wet markets” to shut them down. For your reference, here are some

recent

articles
on this issue.

Please see the text of the letter below and reach out to Max Frankel in Congressman Quigley’s office at
max.frankel@mail.house.gov or Thomas Rice in Congressman McCaul’s office at
thomas.rice@mail.house.gov to sign on.

 

Thank you,

 

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO Headquarters

Avenue Appia 20

1211 Geneva, Switzerland

 

Ms. Monique Eloit

Director-General, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

OIE Headquarters

12 rue de Prony

75017 Paris, France

 

Qu Dongyu

Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO Headquarters

Viale delle Terme di Caracalla

00153 Rome, Italy

 

Dear Directors General,

In order to help prevent the next pandemic, we write today to urge your organizations to take aggressive action toward a global shut down of live wildlife markets and a ban on the international trade of live wildlife that is not intended for conservation
purposes. Live wildlife markets, known as “wet” markets, were linked to the 2003 SARS outbreak and is believed to be the source of the current COVID-19. As this pandemic continues to threaten the lives of millions, pushes healthcare systems to the breaking
point, and devastates economies around the world, it is imperative that we all take action as a global community to protect public health.

Scientists studying zoonotic diseases – diseases that jump between animals and humans – have pointed to the close proximity of shoppers, vendors, and both live and dead animals at wildlife markets in countries around the world as prime transmission locations
for these pathogens. The stress of transport and holding wild animals in these crowded markets where they are also sometimes slaughtered creates an unnatural environment where viruses from different species are able to come in contact, mutate, and spread from
one species to another. The viruses can subsequently spread or “spill over” into humans through handling and consumption of wildlife, potentially starting highly contagious outbreaks of new and deadly diseases for which we have no natural immunity — as we
are currently seeing with COVID-19 and have seen with SARS, Ebola, monkeypox and Lassa fever in the recent past. 

“Wet” markets in particular pose a threat to global public health because wildlife comes from many different locations without any standardized sanitary or health inspection processes. Market vendors cage animals of different species in close proximity,
where the animals are likely to urinate, defecate and potentially bleed or salivate on the animals below them. The risk to food buyers can also be through the of slaughter animals in front of customers, releasing disease carrying fluids like blood, saliva,
and excrement into the air, which can then splash or splatter on nearby people, be consumed or inadvertently inhaled by humans.

Scientists estimate that approximately 60-75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic and that approximately 72% originate from wildlife. Scientists also estimate that the majority of all future emerging infectious diseases will be zoonotic in nature,
and zoonotic diseases are the ecological source for a long history of infectious diseases. For example, in the past 45 years, at least five pandemics have been traced back to bats. Ebola, which has killed 13,500 people in multiple outbreaks since 1976, Middle
Eastern respiratory syndrome, better known as MERS, which can be found in 28 countries, and the Nipah virus, which has a 78% fatality rate, all originated in bats. In the case of SARS and the COVID-19 outbreak, bats were also the original hosts. Bats then
infected other animals, who infected humans. In the case of HIV, a virus originally developed in chimpanzees and spread to humans when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. In 2003, the United States experienced
a monkeypox outbreak in six states, caused when imported Gambian pouched rats transmitted the virus to prairie dogs, who in turn transmitted the virus to people who obtained the animals as pets.

It is clear that to protect human health, these close and sustained interactions with wildlife must stop.  While China has banned the trade and consumption of wild animals in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, there are significant loopholes relating to
the current legal trade of wildlife for medicinal purposes. China took similar steps after the 2003 SARS outbreak, but ultimately lifted the restrictions after the outbreak came under control and perceived risk decreased..

As leaders of organizations tasked with ensuring human and animal health, we urge you to work with member states to ensure that live wildlife markets are closed permanently in all countries and that the international trade of live wildlife not intended for
conservation purposes is banned.

We thank you for your attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

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