SARS from animals - Isolation and Characterization of...

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/ / 4 September 2003 / Page 1/ 10.1126/science.1087139 A novel coronavirus (SCoV) is the etiological agent of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SCoV-like viruses were isolated from Himalayan palm civets found in a live animal market in Guangdong, China. Evidence of virus infection was also detected in other animal, including a raccoon-dog, and in humans working at the same market. All the animal isolates retain a 29-nucleotide sequence, which is not found in most human isolates. The detection of SCoV-like viruses in small wild mammals in live retail market indicates a route of interspecies transmission, although the natural reservoir is not known. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a recently emerged human disease associated with pneumonia ( 1 ). This disease was first recognized in Guangdong Province, China in November 2002. Subsequent to its introduction to Hong Kong in mid February 2003, the virus spread to more than 30 countries causing disease in over 7,900 patients across 5 continents ( 2 ). A novel coronavirus (SCoV) was identified as the etiological agent of SARS ( 3 , 4 ) and the virus causes a similar disease in cynomolgous macaques ( 5 ). Human SCoV appears to be an animal virus that crossed to humans relatively recently. Thus, identifying animals carrying the virus is of major scientific interest and public health importance. This prompted us to examine a range of domestic and wild mammals in Guangdong Province. Since the early cases of SARS in Guangdong reportedly occurred in restaurant workers handling wild mammals as exotic food ( 6 ), our attention focused on wild animals recently captured and marketed for culinary purposes. We investigated a live animal retail market in Shenzhen. Animals were held, one per cage, in small wire cages. The animals sampled included seven wild, and one domestic animal species (Table 1). They originated from different regions of southern China and had been kept in separate storehouses before arrival to the market. The animals remained in the markets for a variable period of time and each stall holder had only a few animals of a given species. Animals from different stalls within the market were sampled. Nasal and fecal swabs were collected and stored in medium 199 with bovine serum albumin and antibiotics. Where possible, blood samples were collected for serology. Prior to sampling, all animals were examined by a veterinary surgeon and confirmed to be free of overt disease. Serum samples were also obtained, after informed consent, from animal ( n = 35) and vegetable ( n = 20) traders within the market. Sera ( n = 60) submitted for routine laboratory tests from patients hospitalized for non- respiratory disease in Guangdong were anonymized and used for comparison. Nasal and fecal swabs from 25 animals were tested for SCoV viral nucleic acid using RT-PCR for the N gene of the human SCoV. Swabs from 4 of 6 Himalayan palm civets were positive in the RT-PCR assay (Table 1). All specimens were inoculated on to FRhk-4 cells as previously described for virus isolation ( 3 ). Cytopathic effect was observed in cells
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SARS from animals - Isolation and Characterization of...

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