U.S. announces ban on import of civets
( 2004-01-14 02:02) (Agencies)
The United States has imposed an
immediate embargo on the import of civet cats because of suspicions that the
mongoose-like animal has spread the SARS virus to humans.
A confiscated civet
cat paces inside a cage at a wild animal market in Guangzhou, November 12,
``This embargo will help us protect the American public and prevent
introduction of SARS in the United States,'' U.S. Health and Human Services
Secretary Tommy Thompson said Tuesday.
While scientists have not found unequivocal evidence that the small
tree-dwelling mammal is responsible for transmitting Severe Acute Respiratory
Syndrome to humans, they have found the SARS virus in civets and China has
ordered the killing of thousands of the animals.
It wasn't clear how many civets, regarded as a delicacy in southern China,
are imported into the United States.
Thompson said noninfectious civet products, such as taxidermied animals, and
civets imported for educational or scientific purposes, would not be affected by
SARS was first found in Guangdong, southern China, in late 2002 and sickened
more than 8,000 people worldwide before subsiding in June. The disease killed