The Pangolin’s Revenge?

The origins of the Coronavirus is by no means certain but preliminary reports suggest that it started in Horseshoe Bats and evolved to infect Pangolins and then humans. The poor little Pangolin is one of the most persecuted species on the planet hunted for its flesh and its scales which are used in traditional Chinese medicines.

The trade is illegal but enforcement is weak and in “wet markets” in Asia, sales carry on unhindered. Even as we speak, the Wuhan market is open once more and the trade carries on unabated!

The History of Zoonotic Diseases

The Coronavirus is now believed to have killed over 180,000 people across the globe but it has infected many more. Mortality is generally only around 3% of those who become infected so compared to some Zoonotic diseases, it is relatively survivable. Ebola which similarly evolved from bats to humans killed between 25% and 50% of those infected.

Zoonotic diseases are by no means uncommon. Perhaps the Black Death or Bubonic plague was one of the first noted which originated in rats and was transmitted by fleas.

Zoonotic diseases fall into three main categories namely viral, bacterial and parasitic. Coronavirus is of course a virus and the principle concern at present. Bacterial examples of zoonosis include TB, Anthrax, Salmonella & Toxoplasmosis. Parasitic are represented by diseases such as Malaria and Tapeworm (Hydatadosis)

Viral Diseases

In recent times, populations have succumbed to Ebola, MERS, SARS and now Coronavirus. Ebola originated in Africa, MERS in the Middle East, SARS and Coronavirus in Asia.

Ebola is by far the most dangerous causing fatalities in over 50% of cases. In comparison, the remainder kill around 3 to 5% of their hosts. Ebola is a haemorrhagic disease which means the patient bleeds internally and eventually their internal organs fail.