Wuhan Wet Market Turtles Carrying Cholera Alarm World

A man wearing a facemask to help stop the spread of a deadly virus which began in the city looks at a turtle for sale at a market in Wuhan on January 24, 2020. - China sealed off millions more people near the epicentre of a virus outbreak on January …
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Four softshell turtles sold at a wet market in Wuhan, China — the origin site of the pandemic-inducing Chinese coronavirus — tested positive for a pathogen capable of causing cholera, a bacterial disease, on Wednesday, China’s state-run Global Times reported on Friday.

“The four turtle samples contaminated with the virus were found on Wednesday [July 13] during a daily health inspection work at the Baishazhou Market in Wuhan, local authorities said in a notice issued on Thursday [July 14],” according to the newspaper.

Wuhan’s municipal government said it immediately deployed an emergency response team to the live animal market “to conduct [an] epidemiological survey, environmental sampling and disinfection.”

Authorities said they had “properly disposed of” the contaminated turtles and additionally ordered the stall that sold the animals to shut down for three days starting July 13.

“Persons in contact with the samples all returned negative results for cholera virus,” the Global Times relayed on July 15.

“Personnel and environment involved with the positive samples have not shown abnormalities after examination, authorities said, and they have reminded other destinations outside of Wuhan that received relevant products of the same batch,” according to the newspaper.

Health inspectors detected cholera-causing bacteria at Wuhan’s Baishazhou Market on Wednesday, 48 hours after officials at Wuhan University announced that one of its students had recently contracted cholera.

Graduates wave Chinese national flags during the graduation ceremony at Wuhan University on June 22, 2022, in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. (Han Zhilin/VCG via Getty Images)

“Authorities said that the vibrio cholerae O139 strain for the student’s infection, announced on Monday [July 11], and the contaminated [turtle] samples are unrelated,” Reuters observed on July 15.

The Wuhan University cholera patient exhibited symptoms including “vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by fever, and quickly recovered after effective diagnosis and treatment,” the Global Times detailed on Friday, adding that no other cases of the disease were reported.

“Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with Vibrio cholerae bacteria,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “People can get sick when they swallow food or water contaminated with cholera bacteria. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe and life-threatening.”

“When cholera patients are treated quickly, they usually recover without long-term consequences. Cholera patients do not typically become carriers of the cholera bacteria after they recover,” the U.S. public health agency notes.

Cholera is rare in China, which reported five cases of the disease in 2021 and 11 in 2020. None of China’s reported cholera infections over the past two years were deadly. Chinese authorities had not disclosed the origin of the Wuhan University student’s cholera infection at press time on Friday.

The city of Wuhan, which is the capital of central China’s Hubei province, was the first location in the world to report cases of the Chinese coronavirus, in late 2019. The detailed origins of that disease, officially known as “COVID-19,” remain unknown largely due to suspected obfuscation by China’s central government. The Chinese Communist Party hesitated to officially acknowledge the severity and transmissibility of the then-novel coronavirus in early 2020. China’s central government waited several days to alert the World Health Organization about the epidemic in Wuhan and thus allowed the disease ample time to proliferate and mushroom into a global pandemic by March 11, 2020.

Security personnel stand guard outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan as members of the World Health Organization (WHO) team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus make a visit to the institute in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on February 3, 2021. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“The earliest COVID-19 infections in late 2019 were initially linked to a local market in Wuhan that also sold seafood and fish products,” Reuters recalled on Friday, referring to one of the unverified theories of the Chinese coronavirus’ origin.

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