6 People Die After Eating Dog Meat in Cambodia

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After chowing down on barbecued dog meat Sunday, six people died in Cambodia. Thirty others were sickened and had to be hospitalized.

Chea Reth, who lives in the Snoul district in Cambodia’s Kratie province, bought the dead dog from another villager, ChannelNews Asia reports. After barbecuing the dog and eating some of its meat, Reth died of acute food poisoning. The other people died or were sickened after eating the dog leftovers at Reth’s funeral.

Four other people died of food poisoning after drinking home-brewed rice wine.

The Kratie provincial health department along with experts from the U.N.’s World Health Organization are investigation the deaths and illnesses.

Health department chief Chhneang Sivutha told the Associated Press that “people in the province have been warned not to eat the meat of animals that have died from illness or poisoning, and not to drink any wine that has not been properly inspected.”

The cause of death of the dog that was barbecued is not known. Unless it was natural causes, the poor dog was probably killed in an extremely cruel way, as are the dogs killed for their meat in China.

“Dog meat is popular in some remote Cambodian provinces as a delicacy, especially when consumed with homebrew white sticky wine,” according to ChannelNews Asia.

Sivutha told the AP samples of the dog meat and wine were collected and sent for testing to the Health Ministry in Phnom Penh.

He said that while food poisoning cases are not unusual in Cambodia, which is one of Asia’s poorest countries, it is uncommon for so many people to get sick at the same time.

As pet dog ownership grows in Asia — as well as awareness of the cruelty of the dog meat trade — the consumption of dog meat is fortunately losing popularity in some countries.

In February 2014, officials from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam agreed to take action to end the dog-meat trade and eliminate rabies by 2020.

“The dog meat trade is undermining rabies elimination efforts in the region,” said Lola Webber, program leader for the Change for Animals Foundation, at the time. “Many dogs carry deadly diseases, such as rabies, and transport conditions increase the possibility of disease exchange.”

Perhaps these deaths will motivate Cambodian officials to step up their efforts to end the dog-meat trade. And as a result of this incident, perhaps many Cambodians will no longer consider dog meat a delicacy, but something to be avoided.

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