Health

The gross Chinese ‘wet markets’ where the virus began

America has them too.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

If you’re eating right now you may want to stop until you finish this article.

The most probable theory at this point for the genesis of the coronavirus is the ‘wet market’ in the city of Wuhan, China.

It’s called a wet market because of the amount of wet viscera, animal waste, guts, and blood that fill the space. Sanitary conditions are low, germs and bacteria abound.

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When the virus started the Associated Press talked to a health activist about conditions in Asian wet markets, “You’ve got live animals, so there’s feces everywhere. There’s blood because of people chopping them up,” said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance.”

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The AP gave details.

“The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, before its closure, advertised dozens of species such as giant salamanders, baby crocodiles and raccoon dogs that were often referred to as wildlife, even when they were farmed.”

An NPR reporter wrote about a wet market in Hong Kong, “Live fish in open tubs splash water all over the floor. The countertops of the stalls are red with blood as fish are gutted and filleted right in front of the customers’ eyes. Live turtles and crustaceans climb over each other in boxes. Melting ice adds to the slush on the floor. There’s lots of water, blood, fish scales and chicken guts. Things are wet.”

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I’ve been to a wet market and restaurant in Philadelphia. Conditions were not largely different from those in Asia. The establishment maintained a market space for customer viewing. Live screaming animals were kept in rusty cages and wet cardboard boxes on the floor. Men with no protective gear or sanitary equipment of any kind handled the animals and killed them with cleavers in the open. The men smoked as they carried out their jobs. When the soon-to-be entrees expired they spewed blood on every conceivable surface and on the butchers.

When the animals died they sprayed the content of their bowels on the floor. The dead ducks, chickens, and other more esoteric offerings were immediately sent to the kitchen for the generally unbeknownst consumption of restaurant patrons. Me and my kids chose another place for dinner. I don’t think I’ll be returning to that wet market any time soon. Okay, ever.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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