Apr 9 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) joined a bipartisan group of 60 House and Senate members in sending a letter to the Directors-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to take aggressive action toward a permanent global ban of live wildlife markets, also known as “wet” markets, as well as a ban on the international trade of live wildlife. “Wet” markets create a breeding ground for infectious diseases such as the 2003 SARS outbreak, and are suspected to be the source of COVID-19.

“Global action is needed to prevent future deadly pandemics,” the members wrote. “It is imperative that we take action as a global community to protect public health.”

“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,” the members continued. “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.”

Scientists estimate that approximately 60 to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, and such diseases have been responsible for at least five pandemics over the last 45 years, including Ebola and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).

Read the full letter here.