Author: Sara Habibipour
By now, we've all probably heard of Coronavirus--a virus that has caused a recent outbreak starting in Wuhan, China.
Coronavirus is an RNA virus characterized by club-like spikes that project from their surface, an unusually large RNA genome, and a unique replication strategy. Coronaviruses cause a variety of diseases in mammals and birds ranging from enteritis in cows and pigs, upper respiratory disease in chickens, and lethal human respiratory infections (as seen with this new outbreak) (NCBI).
But, how did this outbreak begin its reign of terror?
Pretty much every disease outbreak in history is because of a group of people's lifestyle habits. In the case of Coronavirus, the outbreak is thought to have been linked to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan that has since been closed. Coronavirus is also a zoonotic disease found in cats, cattle, camels, bats, etc., and is now shown to have a crossover between animals and humans (because of this market). This is an example of how culture affects disease outbreaks because busy live animal markets (allowing pathogens to spread) are very common in Wuhan, but not necessarily in the United States.
And although we study how culture can lead to outbreaks of disease, oftentimes we neglect how disease can also affect culture itself. This outbreak of Coronavirus came right before the Chinese Lunar New Year, meaning that all public transportation and festivities had to be canceled.
So how can we prevent these outbreaks from happening while still preserving the culture of a certain group of people?