The coronavirus pandemic will hopefully signal the beginning of the end of the cat meat trade in southern China because Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease. I have been looking at a study from 2019 which researched the connection between Toxoplasma gondii and mental health in southeast China. They found a ‘significantly higher’ level of occurrence of exposure to this disease in patients at a psychiatric hospital in Zhejiang Province, South-eastern China. The connection appears to have been made.
That will please the cat haters but let’s remind ourselves that getting toxoplasmosis from cats is less likely than getting it from the mishandling of raw meat and from the soil. But I mention the study because it should prompt the citizens of Asia who eat cat meat to think of the wider issues.
The hospital referred to is about a ten hour drive from Shenzhen which is what I would consider to be one of the centres of the cat meat trade. Both the hospital and Shenzhen are in the southeast of China. My research indicates that this is (was?) where cat meat is the most popular.
Eating cat meat from unregulated markets where the animals are mistreated and slaughtered in an appalling manner must raise the prospect of contracting toxoplasmosis from cats. People might be eating the Toxoplasma gondii oocysts.
It appears that this health risk was behind a recent ban on eating cats and dogs in Shenzhen Province. The first of its kind in China. It was an unusual event which indicated a more enlightened attitude towards the human-animal relationship.
Toxoplasmosis is zoonotic. So is the Covid-19 coronavirus. The Covid-19 pandemic has sharpened people’s minds in respect of the danger to human health and wellbeing of wild and domestic animal abuse by unregulated businesses.
I want to see China make a quantum leap into the 21st century and ban cat and dog meat across the country. The same objective can be said about the ghastly fur trade. The fur trade is not about human health but morality. There is also the issue of human mental health. If you are constantly brutalising animals in a seedy crap-hole of a slaughter house you’ll suffer some sort of mental health issues eventually.
The coronavirus pandemic must encourage Asian governments to ban cat and dog meat surely? It is a culture which presents a danger to human health. Ironically the people who eat cat meat believe it improves their health. This is incorrect. Education is needed.
Study referred to: Association between Toxoplasma gondii infection and psychiatric disorders in Zhejiang, Southeastern China (link).
P.S. 30 million dogs are killed in Asia annually for their meat (source: Humane Society International).