EVEN the cutest of animals can strike fear in the hearts of men. At least health-wise.

The civet, a brown, furry, carnivorous mammal found in Asia and Africa, was discovered by Chinese experts as being responsible for the SARS epidemic that affected about 8,000 people worldwide, and ravaged airline and tourism industries.

According to the SARS Defense and Cure Scientific Group in China, the civet, the “most easily infected wild animal”, is the primary source of the Human Coronavirus which causes SARS.

The civet has long been considered a delicacy by the Chinese as its meat is believed to improve health and skin complexion. But some experts believe that humans got SARS through contacts other than consumption.

Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), new findings revealed that domesticated ducks play a role in the transmission of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus, a new strain of the avian flu, which was originally linked with chickens.

The study revealed healthy-looking ducks have almost similar quantities of the virus affecting ill chickens. Although there is no proof that ducks can transmit the H5N1 virus to humans, they may transmit the disease to healthy chickens which in turn transmit the virus to humans.

In a July report by the WHO, 23 people have died from the H5N1 virus. Reagan D. Tan with reports from Reuters and World Health Organization

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