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China bans cooking of civet cat to prevent SARS
Updated: 2004-11-02 16:11

China has banned the cooking and selling of civet cat to prevent a return of SARS, state media said on Tuesday, quoting the health ministry.

Chinese health experts concluded last month that civet, considered a delicacy in the south of the country, was the primary source of last year's SARS epidemic that killed hundreds of people around the world.

"The (ministry) instructions ... prohibit the slaughter, cooking and selling of wild animals like civet cat and advocate civilised dietary habits," the Beijing Daily said.

Thousands of civets were killed in Guangdong province in January because of fears they may carry a form of the virus that can jump to humans.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome allegedly emerged in China's southern Guangdong province in November 2002 and was soon spread by travellers worldwide.

The disease killed some 800 people around the world, 300 of them in China, and infected about 8,000, dealing a severe blow to several Asian economies.

The civet is a small carnivorous mammal found in Asia and Africa. The brown, furry creature with a cat-like body, long tail and weasel-like face has long been coveted by those who believe its tender flesh will improve their health and complexion.

China has issued emergency instructions to hospitals nationwide to isolate patients suffering from severe respiratory diseases to prevent a winter recurrence of SARS.

Nine people were confirmed infected with SARS in April this year in Beijing and Anhui province and one died.

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