Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Civets Lesson



# 1773






African Civet, Civettictis civetta


African Civet, Civettictis civetta




Civets aren't cats, although they are cat-like in appearance.  They belong to the family Viverridae, and they range geographically from Africa to South East Asia. Nocturnal creatures, little is really known about their habits in the wild, although they've been closely observed in captivity.


Civets were implicated in the 2003 SARS outbreak, although the link has never been proven conclusively.   The SARS Coronavirus (CoV) had been isolated in civets in 2003, and the creature was a popular dish in some Chinese restaurants, leading to speculation that it was the source of the outbreak.



Since that time, bats have also been shown to carry the Coronavirus.  The jury is out on whether the virus was transmitted directly to man from bats, or perhaps from bats to civits to humans.  Fears of this connection to the coronavirus sparked massive culls of civets in China during the SARS outbreak.



Since 2003 the Chinese government has outlawed the use of civits as a food source, although reportedly it can still be purchased in some eating establishments and live markets.



In 2005, during the height of Vietnam's first wave of H5N1 infections, three civits died from the virus in Vietnam's Cuc Phuong National Park.  Exactly how they became infected isn't known, although it is possible they were fed contaminated meat.


Now, four more civets in this same park have died from the H5N1 virus according to local media reports.


The H5N1 virus has shown a remarkable ability to infect species other than birds, demonstrating a wide host range.  This is a phenomenon scientists have not seen with other influenza viruses.  Not only civits, but Tigers in Thailand, martens in Europe, and of course dogs and cats, along with humans, have all been infected.


Any time a virus jumps the species barrier it is a matter of concern.  The H5N1 virus may be an avian flu, but it obviously isn't just for the birds.








Civets in Vietnam's national park die from bird flu


www.chinaview.cn 2008-03-11 13:13:33

    HANOI, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Specimens from four Owston's palm civets in Vietnam's Cuc Phuong National Park, which died in February, have been tested positive to bird flu virus strain H5N1, local newspaper Pioneer reported Tuesday.


    According to tests by Vietnam's Central Veterinary Diagnosis Center, the four civets were infected with H5N1. Specimens from a civet in the national park in northern Ninh Binh province, which died on March 2, has been tested negative to the virus.


    The park's staff named Tran Quang Phuong said that after the deaths of five Owston's palm civets in late February and early March, there are now eight civets in the park.


    In June 2005 when bird flu was hard hitting Vietnam, three Owston's palm civets in the national park died. According to tests by a laboratory in China's Hong Kong, they were infected with H5N1.


    It has remained unknown why the civets have been infected with the d*isease, the newspaper said.


    Vietnam's Department of Animal Health on March 10 said the country currently has nine localities having poultry being hit by bird flu: Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Nam Dinh, Tuyen Quang, Ninh Binh,Phu Tho, Ha Nam and Hanoi in the northern region, and southern Vinh Long province.


    Bird flu outbreaks in Vietnam, starting in December 2003, have killed and led to the forced culling of dozens of millions of fowls in the country.