2022-01-20 18:30

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HK Ordered Mass Cull of Hamster After Shop Worker Caught COVID

HK Ordered Mass Cull of Hamster After Shop Worker Caught COVID



After a worker in a pet shop in HK caught COVID-19 from a hamster, the local govt ordered a mass cull of the animals. 


Authorities on Tuesday ordered 2,000 hamsters from dozens of pet shops and storage facilities to be culled after tracing a coronavirus outbreak to a worker in the Little Boss pet shop, where 11 hamsters subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

This is the worlds first case of a hamster passing the virus to a human being. David Hui Shu-cheong, a government pandemic adviser, noted that the animal may have already got the virus before being sent to Hong Kong from the Netherlands.

The batch of animals may have contaminated other pet shops after arriving and the worker may have got infected via the hamsters excrement. 

Hui said hamsters that entered Hong Kong after December 22, 2021 were at the biggest risk, and he believed the authorities may conduct COVID-19 checks on hamsters imported from outside Hong Kong.

The decision to cull hamsters caused concerns in Hong Kong, with some people saying it was cruel.

Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong told the media that although it might seem unnecessary, Hong Kong has a relatively low vaccination rate, and according to previous experience one infection in a community could cause hundreds of deaths among the elderly. 

Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, said that it is possible that animals can pass the virus to human beings. 

They dont pass the virus directly. It takes time for the virus to get familiar with the environment. After that, it will jump from animals to human beings, said Yang. He noted that culling the hamsters is a rather reluctant option, but since they have already entered the city, theres nothing else the authorities can do. 

A study from the UK in January 2021 found no evidence of pet-to-owner transmission had been recorded to date but said it would be difficult to detect while the coronavirus is still spreading easily between humans.

"The main concern is not the animals' health but the potential risk that pets could act as a reservoir of the virus and reintroduce it into the human population, said one of the authors, Dr. Els Broens from Utrecht University.


Source: Global Times


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