High Risk of Animal-to-Human Disease Transmission in Chinese Fur Farms

MacMillan emphasized the dangers of zoonotic disease transmission, particularly the possibility of human infection
Alastair MacMillan, a visiting lecturer at Surrey University's Veterinary School, noted that these farms have a high stocking density, which allows diseases to spread quickly among animals and potentially to humans. (Representational image: Pixabay)
Alastair MacMillan, a visiting lecturer at Surrey University's Veterinary School, noted that these farms have a high stocking density, which allows diseases to spread quickly among animals and potentially to humans. (Representational image: Pixabay)

An investigation carried out by animal protection organization Humane Society International (HSI) revealed concerning situations at five fur farms in China's Hebei and Liaoning provinces, potentially providing a high danger of disease transmission from animals to humans.

The study, which was conducted toward the end of 2023, focused on farms that held foxes, raccoon dogs, and mink, each with between 2,000 and 4,000 animals in severe environments. Alastair MacMillan, a visiting lecturer at Surrey University's Veterinary School, noted that these farms have a high stocking density, which allows diseases to spread quickly among animals and potentially to humans.

The rapid circulation and mixing of different strains of virus from animal to animal facilitates their adaption to a mammalian host, the development of mutant strains of concern and a greater likelihood of a threat of human infection.
Alastair MacMillan, Visiting Professor at Surrey University's Veterinary School

The close proximity to various species, as well as the passage of numerous viral strains among them, increases the probability that viruses will adapt to mammalian hosts and create mutant strains of concern. MacMillan emphasized the dangers of zoonotic disease transmission, particularly the possibility of human infection.

Prof. MacMillan underlined the animals' mental discomfort, the dirty conditions in which they are kept, and the growing risk of infectious diseases. (Representational image: Wikimedia commons)
Prof. MacMillan underlined the animals' mental discomfort, the dirty conditions in which they are kept, and the growing risk of infectious diseases. (Representational image: Wikimedia commons)

Despite demands for comment, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has kept mute on the conditions on the fur farms and the attendant danger of disease transmission. The footage released by HSI showed animals kept in crowded, wire mesh cages, with many exhibiting signs of psychological discomfort, such as frequent walking.

The investigation's findings raise concerns regarding both animal welfare and public health threats. Animals raised for fur are known to be prone to respiratory infections that can infect humans. Furthermore, early data from the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that raccoon dogs may have had a role in virus transmission to humans.

Peter Li, HSI's China policy expert, raised concern about the striking contrast between the terrible reality of fur farming and the glossy image projected by the fur trade. He underlined the animals' mental discomfort, the dirty conditions in which they are kept, and the growing risk of infectious diseases.

Mentally disturbed animals, piles of animal filth, barren cages, and worrying zoonotic disease is in stark contrast to the glamorous image the fur trade tries to portray.
Peter Li, Humane Society International's China Policy Expert

Despite a drop in China's fur output in recent years, which has been influenced by global trends and increased awareness of animal welfare issues, there is still a strong market for fur. Social media sites continue to promote fur as attractive and practical for keeping warm, increasing its popularity among customers.

Eventually, the investigation focuses on the concerning conditions seen in Chinese fur farms, exposing not only animal suffering but also potential risks to public health. Urgent action is required to address these concerns and prevent the spread of animal-to-human illnesses in the future.

(Input from various resources)

(Rehash/Susmita Bhandary/MSM)

Alastair MacMillan, a visiting lecturer at Surrey University's Veterinary School, noted that these farms have a high stocking density, which allows diseases to spread quickly among animals and potentially to humans. (Representational image: Pixabay)
IPC Issues Drug Safety Concern for Nimesulide
logo
Medbound
www.medboundtimes.com