What’s a raccoon canine? : NPR
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The World Well being Group is asking Chinese language officers to launch knowledge that would present a hyperlink between raccoon canines and the coronavirus. This made many suppose – what’s a raccoon canine?
First, that is why we’re speaking about them. They have been offered at a seafood and meat market in Wuhan, China, the place researchers discovered proof of coronavirus in January 2020. The info, which was briefly printed after which faraway from a world database, confirmed that raccoon canine genetic materials was present in the identical swabs because the virus that causes COVID, which means the animals could have been the unique host.
Okay, so what are they?
Merely put, it’s a wild canine with a muzzle just like a raccoon. In additional scientific phrases, raccoon canines are members of the canine household with fur markings and a raccoon-like head form.
The omnivore is native to East Asia, together with elements of China, Korea, and Japan. Fur farming has introduced 1000’s of them all through the previous Soviet Union, and they’re now a widespread invasive species in northern and western Europe.
They like to dwell in forests and dense vegetation, in addition to in areas bordering water.
They’re extra carefully associated to foxes than to home canines. Raccoon canines are a totally completely different species than the raccoon hound, which is a domesticated breed of hound also referred to as the raccoon canine.
Have been they related to different illnesses?
Sure. Raccoon canines and associated mammals offered for meals at a dwell animal market in China in 2003 have been discovered to hold a coronavirus just like that present in people through the SARS coronavirus outbreak on the time. In 2004, Chinese language well being officers ordered the killing of 10,000 animals destined for the market, together with raccoon canines, after an individual examined optimistic for a brand new pressure of the SARS virus, elevating fears of a brand new outbreak.
One 2022 research sampled about 2,000 animals of 18 completely different species from completely different elements of China, together with pure habitats, zoos and fur farms. Wild animals identified to be eaten by people, together with raccoon canines, have been discovered to hold 102 completely different viruses from 13 virus households.
Twenty-one of those pose a excessive threat to people, both as a result of they’ve contaminated people earlier than or have a historical past of simple transition between species, the researchers mentioned.
Raccoon canines have been carriers of 4 canine coronaviruses which can be genetically just like these present in people. They’ve additionally been carriers of enteroviruses, or viruses which can be transmitted by ingesting contaminated feces into the mouth or nostril.
The researchers mentioned this proof helps the risks of dwell markets such because the one in Wuhan.
“It is exhausting to consider a more practical approach to stoke and fire up an epidemic,” evolutionary biologist and research co-author Edward Holmes advised the journal. The science. “We proceed to let these items flourish and it is solely a matter of time earlier than we get one other outbreak and probably one other pandemic.”
Nonetheless they’re so cute! Can I go away one?
Raccoon canines are wild animals, not pets. In keeping with Britain’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, they dwell on massive house heaps, which implies they want a number of area and are troublesome to maintain in aviaries or different small areas.
Additionally they have a powerful scent as a result of they use scent to speak, making them unhealthy home company.
And, if the raccoon canine escapes or is launched into the wild, it might threaten native wildlife in elements of the world the place it’s not native.