An insight into the new Coronavirus, zoonosis, and China

With a connection between exotic meats and infectious diseases such as China’s Coronavirus, our habit of eating boring farm animals is a good thing.

Zoonosis is a category of infectious diseases that start with animal-to-animal transmission, morph to animal-to-human transmission, and then leap into human-to-human transmission. They’re almost always scary infectious diseases once they enter that last phase because humans have no antibodies to fight off these new diseases. A good example of a zoonotic disease is AIDS, which people in Africa got when they ate or were bitten by infected monkeys.

Those paying attention might have noticed that a lot of zoonotic diseases get their start in China. The latest example of a “new” disease from China is the Coronavirus. China has responded to its rapid spread by closing down the Wuhan province entirely. China is also trying to build a 1,000 bed hospital in a single week. In other words, China’s scared, which indicates that the disease might have an even higher death rate than that to which China is admitting. Coronavirus has already traveled to other Asian countries and has hit land in the U.S. too. I’m not very happy, but there’s little I can do other than eating well, staying healthy, and using disinfecting gel whenever I have contact with things that lots of people handle (shopping carts, handholds in public transportation, doorknobs, and even the arms on one-armed bandits, if I happened to be gambling).

So why is China associated with zoonosis? It might be because of the fact that the Chinese, especially those outside of Beijing, have adventurous eating habits. We in the West tend to limit ourselves to domesticated farm animals (sheep, cows, chickens, pigs, and ducks), with the occasional venison thrown in. In China, however, people enjoy more exotic fare (caution: high gross factor for those accustomed to Western food):

In America, we have the wealth to be able to waste food. In other parts of the world, they’ve learned to eat whatever food is available. Sometimes it’s a matter of survival and sometimes it’s a matter of learned preference. Either way, this kind of adventurous eating is probably what’s bringing our world a bit too close to nature.