Chinese scientists say they have proof the deadly virus made the species jump.
23 Nov 2006
Announcing the result of their research the joint Hong Kong-Chinese team says it is the first to show an infection pattern for SARS traceable back to infected civets.
The SARS outbreak of 2003 killed around 800 people around the world
SARS first emerged in southern China in late 2002 and spread rapidly around the world killing 800 and infecting 8,000 within a year.
Most of the victims were in Hong Kong and mainland China.
The latest findings support previous assumptions of Hong Kong scientists that after jumping from civets to humans, the SARS virus was capable of adapting quickly for human-to-human transmission.
The World Health Organisation also found similar evidence of transmission of the deadly virus which first emerged in southern China four years ago.
Based on that finding, health officials in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong ordered a cull of thousands of civet cats and slapped a permanent ban on the sale and consumption of the raccoon-like animals.
But the ban has not dampened sales of civet cats which are still found in the marketplaces of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong province which borders Hong Kong.