Strains of coronavirus found in rats at food markets and restaurants in Asia

A new study has found that rats destined for South-east Asia’s markets and restaurants have been found to carry multiple coronaviruses.

Rats in an Asian market

The Independent reported that while the strains detected in the rodents are different from the COVID-19 disease that caused the ongoing pandemic, researchers said their findings highlight the dangers of transporting large numbers of animals together in confined spaces.

A collaborative study by researchers from the US and Vietnam found that the proportion of positive coronavirus cases increased as traders moved the live animals from fields to markets and eateries.

The results suggest that the rats had been picking up infections in transit, with the mixing of multiple coronaviruses representing “maximal risk for end consumers”.

“While these aren’t dangerous viruses they offer information on how viruses can be amplified under these conditions,” said Sarah Olson of the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society, which led the study.

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