Personally, I don’t buy this BBC Story which claims that SARS may have come from a type of cat eaten as a delicacy in Guangdong province. True, the Chinese have a saying that “The people in Canton province will eat anything with four legs except a table and anything with wings except an airplane.” And they do occasionally eat such cats. But I think it is much more likely that the virus started as it seems most viruses do: from fowl to pigs:
Pigs are particularly dangerous, because they can be infected by human viruses and those from animals such as rodents and fowl, making them the most potent mixing vessels in which pathogens can mutate and jump from animal species to humans.
It’s no surprise, then, that southern China is thought to have been ground zero for the deadly SARS virus. For centuries, Guangdong province has had the world’s largest concentration of humans, pigs and fowl living in close proximity, explaining why many influenza outbreaks can be traced back to that region. But with the intensive farming technique of concentrating livestock increasing worldwide, many more viral breeding grounds are being created. “Italy, for example, has the potential and has been cited by some scientific studies,” says Morse, “but there are other places that replicate the same conditions.”
The fact is that the “coronavirus that causes SARS has existed in wild birds for hundreds of years”! My friend who is a geneticist long ago told me that most varieties of the common cold came from China for this reason. Whether or not this is how SARS started, it seems like the world would be a much healthier place if we could get the Chinese to raise their pigs away from fowl!!!