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Wuhan coronavirus might have been lurking in animals before adapting to infect humans
Updated: 2020-01-23 07:08:10 KST
The new strain of coronavirus was first found in people who've visited or worked at a fish market in the city of Wuhan.
While it is still unclear exactly how it started or was transmitted, foreign media, including Bloomberg and CNN are pointing to live animals that were sold at the fish market.

They cite experts who blame the so-called 'wet markets',where live animals like chicken are slaughtered on-site and sold without being properly packaged.
There's also the illegal sale of wild animals, like rodents, bats and raccoons that are served as local delicacies.

According to Jeremy Farrar, one of the specialists in infectious disease, Wuhan coronavirus may have been lurking in those animals for decades.
And over time, it might have become stronger, adapting to infect humans.
He says those who touch infected animals can be exposed to viruses.

This is in line with the pattern of another case of coronavirus, SARS,with its 2002 outbreak reportedly coming from a raccoon-like animal from China's Guangdong Province.
That outbreak led to a ban on the sale of exotic animals,only for them to reappear in black markets.

Many experts also say that the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday is a critical moment in the outbreak's development as millions of Chinese are set to travel overseas during that time.

Countries are also enhancing screening at airports to try to contain the virus.
But it is important that people take preventive measures individually as it is confirmed that the virus can be transmitted through human contact.

"The disease control and prevention center recommends washing your hands frequently, covering your mouth when coughing and wearing a mask. Also for those travelling to Wuhan, avoid contacting those with symptoms and touching animals."

The symptoms of the virus include a fever of up to 41 degrees Celsius, severe pain in the throat and vomiting.
For people in South Korea, if you have symptoms like these within 14 days of returning from overseas travel, call 1399 to get medical advice.

Lee Kyung-eun, Arirang News.
Reporter : kelee@arirang.com