Skip to comments.Cat-clubbing may boost disease risk (SARS)
Posted on 01/09/2004 6:52:02 AM PST by hotpotato
THE World Health Organisation said yesterday it had anecdotal evidence that exotic civet cats, suspected of spreading the SARS virus, were being clubbed to death in China.
It warned that such slaughter methods might exacerbate the spread of SARS. "We've heard that some of the animals have been clubbed," Beijing-based WHO spokesman Bob Dietz said.
"This puts all the people (involved in killing the civet cats) at risk."
China ordered the mass destruction of civet cats - considered a delicacy in south China's Guangdong province - after confirmation this week of the country's first case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in six months.
As that patient, a 32-year-old television producer, was released from hospital on Thursday, authorities announced a second suspected case, a 20-year-old waitress.
Chinese newspapers reported yesterday that the waitress worked at a wildlife restaurant and so might have been in contact with civet cats.
Civet cats have mostly been killed by drowning in disinfectant, overseen by well-protected officials, but this practice is far from universal, according to WHO.
The WHO's concern over the slaughter methods of thousands of civet cats coincided with criticism by former French screen goddess Brigitte Bardot, protesting against the fact that the animals had to die in the first place.
The ex-actress appealed in a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao to halt the campaign against "these innocent victims", her animal rights organisation, the Foundation Brigitte Bardot, said yesterday.
The WHO said while there was no solid proof that civet cats were the source of the confirmed SARS case, there was circumstantial evidence.
"Certainly there is a reason to suspect transmission not just from civet cats, but also from other animals," Mr Dietz said. WHO noted the huge impact that killing civet cats had on the income of many people in Guangdong.
"We never asked them to slaughter animals," Mr Dietz said. "We asked them to close down the wildlife markets or at least to regulate them."
Meanwhile, hardline propaganda officials have been promoted in Guangdong, prompting journalists and rights groups to warn of an impending crackdown on the boisterous local press.
The move follows an investigation of the popular Southern Metropolitan Daily this week. Chief editor Cheng Yizhong was interrogated by state prosecutors for reporting a suspected SARS case without authorisation.
SARS first broke out in China and caused a global crisis last year, killing about 800 people and infecting around 8000.
There go my plans for the weekend.
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