Categories: Zoonotic Diseases

COVID-19: Moscow’s attitude mirrors that of London during 1665 bubonic plague

Wuhan, China: streets are empty. Photo: The Independent.

OPNION ON NEWS FROM MOSCOW, RUSSIA: Moscow officials are killing stray cats and dogs because of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus epidemic). A Moscow official has declared that Moscow will be totally cleared of stray animals including rats. This is my interpretation of the statement of Elena Andreeva (Moscow head of the Rospotrepnadzor – the consumer health watchdog) as reported by the RIA news agency.

We are currently carrying out a large-scale complex [of measures] for the total deratisation of the city, catching wild animals, strays…

As there is currently no scientific evidence to support the need to eradicate stray animals to protect people from COVID-19 it appears that the authorities in Moscow are using COVID-19 as an excuse to kill stray cats and dogs. As for rats I see no realistic prospect of them successfully eradicating them.

PETA have urged city and regional administrators not to use the coronavirus epidemic as an excuse to abuse animals. A Russian media outlet, Barking News, has criticised the policy as stupid and cruel.

Comment: the policy reminds me of London’s 1665 bubonic plague (the black death) when the authorities decided to kill all the stray cats when unbeknownst to them it was rats who spread the disease as they carried the flea which carried the disease. As we all know, humans do not learn from history. And people in authority have a propensity to be cruel to animals when they become irrational.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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