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The World in Medicine
December 15, 2004

Civets Off the Menu?

JAMA. 2004;292(23):2827. doi:10.1001/jama.292.23.2827-d

To help prevent a resurgence of SARS, the Chinese government has banned the slaughter and cooking of civets, according to news reports. Civets, mongoose-like animals considered a culinary delicacy by some Chinese, were linked to the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.

About 774 people worldwide have died of SARS, 349 of whom were from China. Nine individuals developed SARS in an outbreak in China in April 2004, one of whom died.

The ban reportedly was issued after the government announced on October 23 that a study of 103 civets from across China found that 70% of civets tested in Guangdong (the southern province where SARS first emerged) were infected. None of the animals from northern and eastern China appeared to be infected. Thousands of civets were slaughtered in Guangdong last January in an effort to prevent future outbreaks.

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