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Posted by Terry Cox on April 27, 2003 at 06:06:26:
In Reply to: SARS, food markets, and Chinese Rat Snakes... posted by Chernoff on April 26, 2003 at 23:39:35:
::Are there hidden virus' and bacteria in the world that we just haven't come into contact with, yet? Probably, but I doubt it would have to do with reptiles as carriers. Asians have been eating reptiles since before any European cultures even existed. More likely, it's because virus' are evolving in the face of modern medicine and technology.
::I doubt that Chinese people eat Mandarin ratsnakes. They mainly eat the larger snakes, such as the stripe-tailed rats and copperheaded rats, etc.
:...These diseases are in no way "new" - the term used is "emerging". The diseases have been around for ages but with the "global village" these pathogens are traveling further and faster than ever before. Ebola is no longer just a potential problem for isolated villages in Africa... I didn't mean to suggest (nor did L. Garrett) that reptiles were carriers - there is absolutely no evidence for that. But the possibility is certainly there. So far, for example, West Nile Virus has been isolated from over 60 species of birds, as well as dogs, cats, horses, bats, chipmunks, and etc. I don't think that finding WNV in a reptile species would cause much "shock" at the Centers for Disease Control.
:...Also, snakes don't have to be large to be eaten. Sometimes small portions of them are consumed for their awesome medicinal powers. It's well known that cobra gall bladder is good for kidney stones. Or was that headaches. Or impotence. Or... Perhaps Mandarin tails are good for sunburn...
Ok, I understand what you mean by "emerging", but it's the same reaction on my part. The wet markets have been there for eons. Why would the disease just be emerging now..unless there's some unforseen method of transportation to the markets that is new?
The bottom line on diseases. Are there some hidden in the world we've never had to deal with before? Definately. Are new diseases and viruses being created/evolving? Yes! Does it matter which way they come about as to the result? No!
The world is going to have to deal with this problem along with many others because of the direction the world is going. It isn't just the "global community" that is going to be a factor in the spread of disease and other disasters. The environment in the world is ripe for major calamities and getting worse all the time. In Asia the number of people will outpace the individual numbers of reptile sps. and others, if it hasn't already in some cases, and eventually those foods and most others won't be enough to feed all those people. Nature is going to cause things to happen to reduce the number of people. Remember the black plague?
My thought is that the world is being degraded and environment harmed to the extent that it's creating an environment suitable to other organisms ruling supreme. It doesn't matter much to me where the virus "SARS" came from, or how it's being transported. The point is man is creating the proper conditions for it. We'll either have to deal with each destructive organism and/or other natural catastrophe that comes along, or face an ever dwindling human population. Nature will take its toll. In my philosophy, we are self destructing.
As far as Mandarins are concerned. I don't know if a few individuals here or there eat Mandarins. From my experience they don't normally constitute much of the ophidian market. It's anecdotal info. I think the Mandarin populations are safe as long as the natives don't destroy the habitat. It's hard to make a species extinct unless you take away all their habitat, but in the case of the larger species, that they prefer, they can make a serious dent. With other species such as turtles which aren't as good at hiding and have more vulverable habitat, there are some that could become extint, and probably some already have.