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Pork, Pigs, and

the Wuhan

There is a possibility that the Wuhan epidemic is coming

from pigs. This research increases the probability that the
Wuhan Coronavirus came from pork and China must
consider the possibility that pigs are still transmitting it to

Common Sense, Pigs, and the Epidemiology

of the Wuhan Coronavirus
Anyone who is not a Pollyanna about science and medicine knows
that scientists and doctors are human and humans have vested
interests and cognitive biases. For starters. As the Wuhan
Coronavirus pandemic gets worse each day, it is important to keep
a skeptical eye on the scientists and information that is forming the
accepted narrative. In some ways, we are still in what I have called
"the fog of epidemiology." Anyone who doesn't know what "the
fog of epidemiology” is should read this book on the foggy
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome epidemic.

When the Wuhan epidemic supposedly broke out, it was initially

linked to the Wuhan seafood market. The first epidemiological
thought was that there was something in seafood that was making
people sick. Then it was revealed that there were a thousand stalls
in that market, many of which sold exotic wildlife. Pictures of
civets and porcupines emerged and it was assumed that some
creative virus had jumped into workers and visitors to the market
from some animal that only intrepid Chinese people dine on.
Videos of Chinese diners consuming things like bats, live mice,
and large frogs suddenly appeared on Twitter.

When a virus was rather quickly isolated from sick patients (a

coronavirus), its molecular structure suggested it had come from
bats. But epidemiologists suspected that it had an intermediate
vector and that vector was one of the creatures sold at the market.
Basic on molecular analysis, the first suspects to get attention were
snakes, but that idea was quickly debunked.

As the search for an exotic intermediate vector continued, it

seemed bizarre that a couple of obvious clues were ignored. The
useful site FluTrackers had posted unedited reports that indicated
that one of the first men with the Wuhan illness had gone to the
Wuhan market to buy "meat," which everyone knows is usually
pork in China. Even more intriguing and more specific, another
man who was affected by Wuhan pneumonia sold pork in the
market. He had been doing it for thirty years.

Now, you can hear our eager-beaver friends in the scientific

community interrupting the conversation and saying in their most
condescending voices, "correlation is not causation," as though
they had just invented the wheel. That's how most conversations
begin and end between scientists and heathen non-scientists. But
after bowing one's head to the obvious, one still must assert that
all epidemiology begins with clues that eventually turnout to be
illusions or winning tickets. To ignore the pork clue at the Wuhan
market is to ignore the obvious. The Wuhan pandemic is too
important to ignore the obvious.

All of this would just be armchair speculation from a layman if not

for scientists Veneet Menachery and Lisa Gralinksi. On January 24
they published a paper in Viruses which should have gotten the
attention from the international media.

Their paper opened with a general description of the epidemic:

"The third zoonotic human coronavirus (CoV) of the century
emerged in December 2019, with a cluster of patients with
connections to Huanan South China Seafood Market in Wuhan,
Hubei Province, China. Similar to severe acute respiratory
syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory
syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infections, patients exhibited
symptoms of viral pneumonia including fever, difficulty breathing,
and bilateral lung infiltration in the most severe cases."
The also note, "The source of the 2019-nCoV is still unknown,
although the initial cases have been associated with the Huanan
South China Seafood Market. While many of the early patients
worked in or visited the market, none of the exported cases had
contact with the market, suggesting either human to human
transmission or a more widespread animal source. In addition to
seafood, it is reported on social media that snakes, birds and other
small mammals including marmots and bats were sold at the
Huanan South China Seafood Market. The WHO reported that
environmental samples taken from the marketplace have come
back positive for the novel coronavirus, but no specific animal
association has been identified."

While the scientists don't point out that pork was sold in the
market and there may have been live pigs sold in the market, they
do bring up the issue of the ability of the potential infection of
pigs with the Wuhan Coronavirus. They note that a previous paper
published on Jaunary 23 by Chinese scientists suggests that there
are cell receptors in pigs (called ACE-2) which are susceptible to
the Wuhan Coronavirus.

When this matter was brought up to biologist Richard Ebright, he

responded by writing, "The viral genome strongly suggests that
entry into human population involved either: (1) bat coronavirus
RaTG13 or a RaTG13-related bat coronavirus; or (2) bat
coronavirus RaTG13 or RaTG13-related bat coronavirus after
passage in non-bat, non-human host. Under scenario 2, the non-
bat, non-human host is unknown, but, most likely is a mammal
(mouse, hamster, rabbit, pig, marmoset, macaque, etc.)."
The fact that pigs can become infected with the Wuhan
Coronavirus does not mean that pigs are infected with the Wuhan
Coronavirus and are vectors for the epidemic in China. But it
certainly suggests that could be the case. In science and epidemiology,
this is known as something that should be researched sooner rather than
But if you think this should be an obvious course of action, take a
breath and think about the implications. The idea that pigs are
infected with the Wuhan Coronavirus would take the epidemic to
a new level of seriousness and panic, as well as economic disaster.
Nobody would want to go there. And yet, if a simultaneous pig
epidemic of Wuhan Coronavirus is occurring, the inconvenient
implications must be faced and addressed by public health and
agricultural authorities.
Don't count on a common sense approach to investigating the link
between the Wuhan Coronavirus and pigs
anytime soon. It may be avoided until something happens that
makes the issue painfully unavoidable.
It has often been said that the first casualty in war is truth. Let us
hope that the legacy of the Wuhan Pneumonia crisis doesn't turn
out to be that the first casualty in pandemics is common sense.

Return of the Coronavirus: 2019-nCoV [The

Wuhan Coronavirus]
by Lisa E. Gralinski and Vineet D. Menachery

"In addition, another rapid report links demonstrates 2019-nCoV

uses ACE2 receptors from human, bat, civets, and swine."
"At this point, the infectious capability of the 2019-nCoV for
different species and different cell types is unknown. Early
reports suggest that the virus can utilize human, bat, swine, and
civet ACE2."
Shi, Z.-L.; Zhou, P.; Yang, X.-L.; Wang, X.-G.; Hu, B.; Zhang, L.; Zhang, W.; Si, H.-R.;
Zhu, Y.; Li, B.; et al. Discovery of a novel coronavirus associated with the recent
pneumonia outbreak in humans and its potential bat origin. bioRxiv 2020

One man who sold pork at the Wuhan market is a victim of

Wuhan Pneumonia as is a man who reportedly went to the
Wuhan market to buy "meat." If pigs are spreading the
coronavirus, China and the rest of the world may have to
change their approach to controlling the epidemic.
Husband, wife in the
Eastern market selling pork
for more than thirty years
At Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, Mr. Huang told China
Business Daily that her husband is 52 years old. Both
husband and wife are working in the South China
Seafood Wholesale Market and selling pork non-staple
food products in the Eastern District.
"We have been in the meat wholesale business for a lifetime,
and it has been more than 30 years. In recent years, we have
been in the South China Seafood Wholesale Market." Said Mr.
The market was closed and her husband was hospitalized,
but Mr. Huang did not stop working. She could only go to the
hospital to learn about her husband's illness, deliver meals
or daily supplies. "After the market was closed and some
markets were closed, some of the goods from the business
owners inside could not get out. I got up at 12 o'clock in the
evening to pick up the goods outside and then send them to
the hotel." Mr. Huang told reporters that many merchants in
the market Many customers have accumulated over the
During the exchange, the reporter saw that Mr. Huang's hand
was rough, and his fingers were frozen very red and swollen.
"My husband was transferred from another hospital to
Jinyintan Hospital on December 31, 2019. The fever was
not very serious before, more than 38 degrees, but the
symptoms have not improved. After transferring to
Jinyintan Hospital, he still has a fever. Mrs. Huang said.
According to Mr. Huang, her husband started to have
symptoms of a cold and fever around December 25,
2019, and it has been more than a week now. At that
time, I went to the Wuhan Central Hospital nearest to
the South China Seafood Wholesale Market. I went to see
that there was no hospitalization. Medical staff heard
that the merchants in the seafood market suggested that
we go directly to Jinyintan Hospital.
"When my husband first came, he lived on the 6th floor.
When I heard that he was a merchant in the South China
Seafood Wholesale Market, he moved to the fourth floor."
Mr. Huang told reporters that most of the merchant patients
in the South China Seafood Wholesale Market live in the
fourth floor floor. After three days, the hospital paid 6,000
yuan in advance for hospitalization.
According to its introduction, patients in the South China
Seafood Wholesale Market are mainly from the Western
District, and less from the Eastern District. The Western
District mainly sells seafood, chicken, duck and poultry
frozen products, while the Eastern District sells more pork.
"The goods in the market are the same in all parts of the
country, and they are common in all parts of the country."
Mrs. Huang said, "We are not sure whether the illness is
related to the goods."
"I had a cold two or three days after my husband had a fever,
and it took me two days to get an injection." Aunt Huang
said. According to the reporter's understanding, the South
China Seafood Wholesale Market environment has not been
very good. Although it is also disinfected from time to time,
the ventilation is poor. Most of the products sold are frozen
products. After freezing, the environment is very humid.
Mr. Huang told reporters that a fire broke out in the western
part of the market more than two months ago. A shop selling
dry goods caught fire. It started to burn at 2:30 in the
morning and burned to more than 7 o'clock before the fire
was put out. "It was dried spices such as hot peppers. It was
very smokey at the time, and it was particularly sultry. The
11th and 12th streets in the West District were completely

Pig virus, porcine deltacoronavirus, shows

cross-species transmission
The first animal study of a pig virus’ potential to jump to
another species shows that the virus, once introduced to a
select group of birds, is easily transmitted to healthy chickens
and turkeys.
The researchers who led this work were part of a team that
previously found in a lab setting that the virus could infect
cells from multiple species, including chickens and humans.

Important information about pork and pigs in China

There are 14 pig breeding firms in Wuhan

Pigs and Coronaviruses

Porcine Respiratory Coronavirus

Transmissible Coronavirus
Gastroenteritis in Pigs
Transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) is a common viral disease of the small intestine that causes
vomiting and profuse diarrhea in pigs of all ages.

Etiology and Pathogenesis:

The causal coronavirus infects and destroys villous epithelial cells of the jejunum and ileum, which
results in severe villous atrophy, malabsorption, osmotic diarrhea, and dehydration. The incubation
period is ~18 hr. The infection spreads rapidly by aerosol or contact exposure. Severe epidemics are
more common during winter because of survival of the virus in colder temperatures.
The Importance of Disinfection: Survival of
Coronaviruses on Surfaces and Transmission
Potential via Fomites
Having previously crossed species from bats to become endemic in humans (7), coronaviruses 229E and
OC43 are spread from person-to-person by way of contaminated aerosols. However, the potential for
transmission from contaminated fomites remains of concern as demonstrated by the continued viability
of strain 229E more than three hours after drying onto porous and non-porous materials, including
aluminum and sterile sponges; strain OC43 remained infectious up to one hour after drying on the same
surfaces (11). A comprehensive study evaluating 16 antimicrobial products found that all achieved 3-
log10 reductions of human coronavirus strain 229E dried in the presence of organic soil onto stainless
steel disks except for a quaternary ammonium compound, a chlorhexidine gluconate-centrimide
product, and a phenolic formulation (10). In addition, low levels of sodium hypochlorite, chloramine T,
and a mixed halide were not effective, although greater concentrations of these actives did reduce strain
229E levels by 3-log10 (10). No studies have been published to-date detailing disinfection efficacy nor
inactivation rates of MERS-CoV on surfaces nor in fluids. Public health agencies such as the CDC
recommend the standard disinfection protocols currently in place at hospitals and other patient care

Interestingly, the zoonotic SARS coronavirus strain demonstrated both respiratory and intestinal
replication routes for human hosts. A retrospective study of 138 patients infected with SARS-CoV found
that almost 40% of patients developed diarrhea, and that SARS-CoV genomic material was detectable in
the stool of patients for more than 10 weeks after onset of the initial illness (4). The release of infectious
SARS viruses not only into the air, but also into the water supply, further amplified the need for an
effective halt to potential environmental transmission. Relative to strain 229E, SARS-CoV maintains
infectivity longer in suspension and when dried onto surfaces and is also more thermally resistant (30
minutes at 56 °C and 60 °C) in the presence of 20% fetal calf serum (8). Although SARS-CoV appears to
be more environmentally resistant relative to the respiratory coronaviruses, its enveloped structure is
still vulnerable to a wide range of disinfectants. Suspension evaluations of propanol (100% and 70%)
and ethanol (78%) demonstrated reduction of SARS-CoV to levels below detection in 30 seconds; 60
seconds were required for wine vinegar and 120 seconds for formaldehyde (0.7% and 1%) and 0.5%
glutardialdehyde (8). Povidone-iodine (PVP-I) products, quaternary ammonium compounds, free
chlorine, and catalytic oxidation via Ag/Al2O3 and Cu/Al2O3 active surfaces have also been proven to
completely inactivate SARS-CoV (2, 3, 9, 12). Therefore, environmental transmission of coronaviruses
via fomites and liquids can be minimized given the proper implementation of disinfection protocols.