Avoid consumption of sick, dead animals, UN agencies warns

The Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the World Health Organisation have called on hunters not to track animals that appear sick or harvest those that are found dead. 

According to the agencies, staying away from such animals will help to reduce the risk of transmitting coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, and other zoonotic pathogens from animals to humans.

“Current evidence suggests that humans are not infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus by eating meat. 

“However, hunters should not track animals that appear sick or harvest those that are found dead. 

“Appropriate butchering and food preparing techniques, including proper hygiene practices, can limit transmission of coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, and other zoonotic pathogens,” they said.

The organisations made the call in a joint statement released on Tuesday.

“As a general precaution, people should not approach or feed wild animals or touch or eat those that are orphaned, sick, or found dead (including road kills). Instead, they should contact local wildlife authorities or wildlife health professionals.

“FAO, OIE and WHO stress that the public should be educated about contact with wildlife. Some wild animals may come close to human settlements and residential areas. 

“As a general precaution, people should not approach or feed wild animals or touch or eat those that are orphaned, sick, or found dead (including road kills). Instead, they should contact local wildlife authorities or wildlife health professionals.

“It is also crucial to safely dispose of uneaten food, masks, tissues, and any other human waste to avoid attracting wildlife, especially to urban areas and, if possible, keep domestic animals away from wildlife and their droppings,” they said.

The organisations also encourage countries’ national animal and human health services to collaborate with national veterinary services and national wildlife authorities, whose partnership is key to promoting animal health and safeguarding human and environmental health.

They also urge them to promote monitoring of wildlife and encourage sampling of wild animals known to be potentially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.

Other recommendations they made are to “share all genetic sequence data from animal surveillance studies through publicly available databases.

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