Experts on SARS prevention in South China's Guangdong province, one of the hardest hit regions in last year's SARS epidemic, reaffirmed recently that civet cats are the main carriers and one of the major animal hosts of coronavirus, which causes SARS.
They said the weasel-like feline is one of the main animal hosts of the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, which claimed about 800 lives across the globe last year.
Since the large-scale outbreak of the virus in spring last year, incessant studies have been conducted to discover its transmission track and mechanism. The recent conclusion of the Guangdong scientists is a great step in the eventual decoding of the killer virus.
Although scientists remain divided on which exact animal is the host of the lethal coronavirus, answers to this thorny question will not automatically help humankind permanently shake off the nightmare of the SARS disaster.
We need to carefully reflect on our own role in it. It is our irrational lifestyle, not civet cats, that has led to the spread of the disease.
For a long time, civet cats, together with other rare species, have been fashionable delicacies destined for the country's dinner tables.
In the wake of the SARS outbreak, people panicked and began to blame the small mammal for the disease. Thousands of civet cats have been slaughtered in the fight against SARS. And laws and regulations came into being banning the indiscriminate eating of wildlife.
We kill them. We eat them. And then we blame them.
History teaches us that nature is vengeful when treated irresponsibly. It is high time we human beings woke up to the fact that we are not an elite of nature that can willfully dispose of other species. We need to live in harmony with them. And we should treat other species more humanely. In doing this, we are taking care of ourselves and future generations.
The SARS epidemic, together with bird flu, sounded an alarm.
Even if scientists manage to find the animal host of the virus, the threat will not be diminished.
Our safety depends on our willingness to reform our behaviour.
Source: China Daily