Mice are back on restaurant menus in Guangdong for the first time since the Sars outbreak as unscrupulous merchants cash in on an explosion in the availability of field mice in flood-hit Hunan. The Guangzhou-based Information Times reported yesterday that trucks loaded with mice from Hunan were seen arriving in Guangzhou by night and the mice were being sold to an underground wild animal market in Baiyun district. Mice were traditionally regarded by many in Guangdong as a delicacy. They were said to have more nutrition than pork and beef. Infectious-disease experts warned that eating wild field mice could greatly increase the risk of epidemics such as severe acute respiratory syndrome, which struck in 2003, when eating mice was banned. But Hunan has been overrun by 2 billion field mice driven from their nests by floods last week and many merchants spotted a business opportunity. Mice dealers from Hunan reportedly told a reporter that they could supply live field mice to Guangdong every day. The mice were sold at 40 yuan to 50 yuan per kilogram. The newspaper said Guangzhou had become an underground distribution centre, with truckloads of mice arriving regularly. The report said before the floods in Hunan, mice were sold at most three times a week. Now, in one animal market alone, about 300kg of mice were sold every day. Because of the ban on eating wild animals, the dealers only sold to regular clients, the report said. But mice could be found on restaurant menus in Shaoqing , Panyu , Nanhai and Dongguan . Locals believed eating mice was good for one's health and could boost one's sex drive, the report said. Lo Wing-lok, a specialist in infectious diseases in Hong Kong, said eating mice was one of the key sources of infectious diseases. 'Eating mice does harm your health. It is a superstition to believe it is good for your health,' Dr Lo said. 'We should learn the lesson from the outbreak of Sars. The virus was confirmed as coming from civet cats and other wild animals, including mice.'