Three animals die of bird flu in Vietnam

Bird flu has killed three rare civets born in captivity at a national park in Vietnam, marking the first time the virus has been reported in the species, officials said Friday.

The Owston civets died in late June at the Cuc Phuong National Park, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Hanoi. Samples sent to a lab in Hong Kong came back positive for the H5N1 virus, said Scott Roberton, technical adviser for the civet conservation program at the park.

He said other animals at the park have been tested, including chickens, rats and other birds but none have tested positive for the virus.

"It's another good example of how dangerous this thing is," Roberton was quoted as saying by the AP. "No animals are ill, no people are ill. We're still trying to figure out where the source was."

Scientists suspect that SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 800 people worldwide in 2003, was passed to humans from civet cats and other mongoose-like animals sold in live food markets in southern China.

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