Two new cases of SARS in China brings back fears that the epidemic may return. China is destroying large numbers of civet cats, the carriers of the disease, but the man who has just recovered from SARS says he’s never eaten the animal. A second suspected case is a 20-year-old waitress who worked in a restaurant serving wild game. Researcher Zhong Nanshan says the new SARS strain is more “human-like,” making it even more infectious than the strain that caused the previous outbreak.

The 32-year-old male patient is a TV journalist from Guangdong province, where the epidemic broke out before, but he had a strain of the virus that is “different from the animal or human SARS coronaviruses found last year,” according to researcher Yuen Kwok-yung. But he says the virus is “of the same lineage” as those found recently in civet cats from the area, which are considered a gourmet food. The Xinhua news agency says, “The provincial government of Guangdong ordered the immediate shutdown of local wild animal markets and the killing of all civet cats before January 10 in an urgent measure to contain a possible outbreak of SARS.”

Although the patient did not eat civet, he says he did recently throw a mouse out of the window of his apartment, and SARS was carried throughout an apartment complex by rats last year in Hong Kong, causing the entire building to be quarantined.

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