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Raccoon Dogs May be Responsible for the Spread of COVID

— April 3, 2023

WHO is investigating whether raccoon dogs in Wuhan could have initiated the spread of the coronavirus.

Raccoon dogs may be the missing link that was needed to find the origins of the coronavirus. World Health Organization officials have contacted China, asking for data on raccoon dogs, their possible links to the virus, and whether they have been sold in other markets nationwide. The reason that the World Health Organization believes these animals may be linked to the pandemic is that they were sold at the Wuhan seafood market where the coronavirus was first discovered in January 2020.

Data that has now been scrubbed from an international database seemingly provided evidence that the DNA from raccoon dogs showed up in the same swab samples which contained the coronavirus. But what are raccoon dogs?

Raccoon dogs, scientifically known as Nyctereutes, are a type of canid native to East Asia. They are not actually related to raccoons, but they do look similar. Raccoon dogs are omnivores and feed on small animals, berries, and plants. They are also known to scavenge for food.

Raccoon dogs have been passed on from person to person in China for many years. These small animals are extremely popular due to breeding, fur farming, and their meat which is sold as an exotic delicacy. In some places, they are even kept as pets.

Raccoon Dogs May be Responsible for the Spread of COVID
Photo by Miguel á Padriñán from Pexels

Raccoon dogs carry a variety of diseases that can be passed on to humans, including the coronavirus. In 2003, they were found to be carrying a similar virus that was linked to the SARS outbreak. In addition to the coronavirus, these unique animals can transmit other dangerous diseases, which is something that WHO officials have been quick to research.

The health watchdog believes that research offers evidence that these raccoon dogs had actually left behind DNA in the same place in the Wuhan market where genetic signatures of the new coronavirus were discovered. With huge amounts of genetic information, the data has been the focus of intense examination ever since the paper was released by Chinese scientists. 

Whether the raccoon dogs are actually responsible for the spread of the coronavirus is still yet to be determined, but they may provide further evidence as to how and where the virus originated. As such, more research will be necessary in order to draw any definitive conclusions.

What is clear, however, is the fact that China has been lenient in its responsibility to provide data and information to the World Health Organization regarding raccoon dogs. Such information is essential for any research related to the coronavirus and its origins, so it is important that China works closely with the international community in order to properly address this issue.

Raccoon dogs look exactly as their name suggests — a cross between these two common domestic animals. They fact that the two have been “crossed,” however, makes the creature quite unique.

Because these raccoon dogs were sold at the Wuhan market where the coronavirus was first discovered in January 2020, and due to the fact that they are known to cause diseases, the World Health Organization believes that they may be linked to the pandemic. Though it is still yet to be determined whether or not raccoon dogs are responsible for the spread of the coronavirus, they remain a contender in the search for a culprit. Other animals have also been believed to possibly have contributed to the spread of the virus.


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Britannica: raccoon dog

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