SIR - As Portugal, Spain, the United States, and the UK have now confirmed outbreaks of monkeypox, it’s high time we acknowledged that continuing to mistreat animals risks triggering the next global pandemic.

There has been a tenfold increase in human cases of monkeypox since the 1970s, and a report in February warned that the threat from it should “not be underestimated”. Snatching animals from their natural homes, confining them to filthy cages in unnaturally close proximity at markets or on farms and eating them will lead to more zoonotic diseases like monkeypox, with unpredictable mutations and potentially deadly outcomes.

Monkeypox was first seen outside Africa in 2003, when it spread to humans from exotic animals exported to be kept as pets. It can also be caught by eating animals infected with the virus. Around three-quarters of recently emerged infectious diseases in humans, including SARS, swine flu, and Covid, were transferred from other species.

Humans must act fast to prevent the next pandemic and we can start by leaving animals in peace. It’s time we all played our part in moving towards a safer future by eating only healthy and nutritious plant-based food.

Jennifer White, PETA Foundation, London