FIT WebQoof: Did Coronavirus Come From Chicken?

So far, the source of the coronavirus has not been identified. FIT fact checks the link between ncov and chicken.

Health News
4 min read
FIT WebQoof: Did Coronavirus Come From Chicken?


Fear-mongering and fake news around Coronavirus is spreading fast. Much is still unknown about the virus, so a lot of false claims about it are quickly emerging to fill in the gaps - the problem is, these do more harm than good.

Its origin has been hotly debated in the scientific community. Earlier studies had indicated the source could be snakes, but that theory is now being questioned.

FIT has previously debunked claims that cold drinks and ice-cream or spicy food can make you susceptible to coronavirus.

The latest viral message on social media is that broiler chicken is the source of the deadly virus.

FIT WebQoof: Did Coronavirus Come From Chicken?
(Photo: Whatsapp)

What We Know So Far:

  • The new strain of coronavirus, called Novel Coronavirus since it is the first time it has appeared in humans, originated in Wuhan, China.
  • Although the most number of cases - 20,000 infected and 425 fatalities - have been in Wuhan, China, it has spread globally with multiple countries reporting multiple infections of coronavirus with some confirming human-to-human transmission.
  • In India, 3 confirmed cases have been reported from Kerala.

SARS, MERS, nCov: Who is in the Coronavirus Family?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses known for containing strains that cause potentially deadly diseases in mammals and birds, and humans to a lesser extent. In humans they're typically spread via airborne droplets of fluid produced by infected individuals.

The latest Novel Coronavirus (nCov) is a new strain to be encountered in humans. Other versions or strains of the virus were the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and even the common cold.

The Link Between Animals and Previous Viruses

Now, the misunderstanding over the original probably stems from the confusion within the family of coronavirus -

  • SARS and avian flu were transmitted from birds and
  • MERS was believed to have originated from bats and then spread from camels according to WHO.

Animal and human transmission has resulted in spreading many infectious diseases in the past.

As of Monday, 3 February, the latest development is that nCov may have originated from bats according to two studies published in the journal Nature.

In the first study, the researchers carried out a genome sequence of the virus associated with the respiratory disease outbreak in China, isolated from a patient working in the seafood market linked to the initial cases.

The study found that the virus was closely related to a group of SARS-like coronaviruses previously identified in bats in China. However, this research was conducted from the fluid sample by one patient and more analysis is required before a link is established, reported PTI.

The study in the journal Nature did find that the new coronavirus is a distant cousin of SARS, sharing almost 80% of its genetic sequence, reported Bloomberg.

It is also important to wait for further research and confirmation because even if bats are the original animal for the virus, confirmation that they are the same animal responsible for its spread and ensuing pandemic is needed.

The rapid spread of the disease could be due to the open-air, crowded ‘wet’ Chinese markets in Wuhan that sell live meat, fish and animals.

Authorities in Wuhan, China banned the trade of live animals at wet markets, reported Business Insider.

The specific market where the outbreak began, the Huanan Seafood Market, was shut on 1 January.

But does this mean you need to fear all animals, even your beloved pets? WHO says that there is no current evidence that house animals like dogs or cats could be infected with the new coronavirus. They still advise to practice basic hygiene and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with pets.

So, is Chicken Linked With nCov?

So far, the source for the current nCov remains unknown, with officials stating that they are working on finding the exact source but nothing is confirmed as of yet.

CDDEP director, Ramanan Laxminarayan adds,

“I am not aware of any scientific evidence linking broiler meat in India and the coronavirus.”

There has been no official confirmation of a link between chicken and nCov - and no source for nCov has been found as yet. However, WHO has said that they are looking into animal sources to find the origin but there is no clarity on what the animal is.

What we do know for sure is that a definite way for this to spread is by close human contact with an infected person.

In a previous FIT article, Dr Sumit Ray is a senior consultant, Critical Care Medicine advised,

“Close human contact through air or touch needs to be avoided. It can spread via coughing, sneezing, or touching common areas that have germs left by an infected person. This is why washing hands regularly is very important after touching door knobs, taps or any surfaces, especially those that are of public use.’

The latest findings, as reported by PTI, suggest that the most likely route of transmission is through the airways of individuals, although the researchers note that other possible routes may be possible, and more patient data is needed to investigate the transmission routes further.

In short, the claim of nCov being originated and spread through broiler chicken is false.

(With inputs from PTI)

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