Your Views: A risk of zoonotic transmission

Your Views: A risk of zoonotic transmission
The slaughterhouse's SUP requires that the facility keep its doors closed to prevent the release of particulates and odors. Last year residents observed several incidents in which several doors were opened. (Courtesy photo)

To the editor:

Here we are in the aftermath of a global COVID-19 pandemic, which claimed 1 million American lives and 6 million lives globally. Without missing a beat, the Times’ May 26 article on the Colvin Street slaughterhouse, “Slaughterhouse mostly avoids disruption,” makes no mention of the real dangers and risks of zoonotic transmission of lethal viruses from animals to humans. Why should Alexandria city residents worry?

Two peer-reviewed studies concluded that the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, made a “zoonotic leap” from infected animals to humans at the Wuhan market in China at the end of 2019. Among other zoonotic transmission for viruses, let’s count avian, swine, many influenza virus infections, and, most recently, the Monkeypox virus, of which as of this letter there are 92 confirmed cases in non-endemic countries.

The World Health Organization had this to say about slaughter-on-the-spot meat markets: “Markets selling the meat or byproducts of wild animals are particularly high risk due to the large number of new or undocumented pathogens known to exist in some wild animal populations.” Even these facts on the risks of zoonotic viral transmission did not prevent our elected officials from barreling ahead with their approval for the slaughterhouse.

The article goes on to note that the owners of Frolick Dogs and Dogtopia, two canine-focused businesses near the slaughterhouse, did not respond or declined to comment for the article. Let’s wait and see how these owners react when the dogs in their care become viral reservoirs for the next zoonotic viral transmission. The article also gives no mention to the mental health of the dogs at both these businesses. Just imagine how these dogs must suffer from the odor of slaughtered birds in the air all day.

The Times’ article left out some important information. For example, once a novel zoonotic viral transmission is detected, is the city prepared for those phone calls?

Like the city government, I guess the Times is not expecting anything as troublesome as a community spread from the next novel zoonotic virus. There’ll be no need to phone in our concerns.

-David Levine, Alexandria