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      Epidemiology and cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Guangdong, People's Republic of China, in February, 2003

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          Summary

          Background

          An epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been associated with an outbreak of atypical pneumonia originating in Guangdong Province, People's Republic of China. We aimed to identify the causative agent in the Guangdong outbreak and describe the emergence and spread of the disease within the province.

          Methods

          We analysed epidemiological information and collected serum and nasopharyngeal aspirates from patients with SARS in Guangdong in mid-February, 2003. We did virus isolation, serological tests, and molecular assays to identify the causative agent.

          Findings

          SARS had been circulating in other cities of Guangdong Province for about 2 months before causing a major outbreak in Guangzhou, the province's capital. A novel coronavirus, SARS coronavirus (CoV), was isolated from specimens from three patients with SARS. Viral antigens were also directly detected in nasopharyngeal aspirates from these patients. 48 of 55 (87%) patients had antibodies to SARS CoV in their convalescent sera. Genetic analysis showed that the SARS CoV isolates from Guangzhou shared the same origin with those in other countries, and had a phylogenetic pathway that matched the spread of SARS to the other parts of the world.

          Interpretation

          SARS CoV is the infectious agent responsible for the epidemic outbreak of SARS in Guangdong. The virus isolated from patients in Guangdong is the prototype of the SARS CoV in other regions and countries.

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          Most cited references11

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          A novel coronavirus associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome.

          A worldwide outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been associated with exposures originating from a single ill health care worker from Guangdong Province, China. We conducted studies to identify the etiologic agent of this outbreak. We received clinical specimens from patients in seven countries and tested them, using virus-isolation techniques, electron-microscopical and histologic studies, and molecular and serologic assays, in an attempt to identify a wide range of potential pathogens. None of the previously described respiratory pathogens were consistently identified. However, a novel coronavirus was isolated from patients who met the case definition of SARS. Cytopathological features were noted in Vero E6 cells inoculated with a throat-swab specimen. Electron-microscopical examination revealed ultrastructural features characteristic of coronaviruses. Immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence staining revealed reactivity with group I coronavirus polyclonal antibodies. Consensus coronavirus primers designed to amplify a fragment of the polymerase gene by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were used to obtain a sequence that clearly identified the isolate as a unique coronavirus only distantly related to previously sequenced coronaviruses. With specific diagnostic RT-PCR primers we identified several identical nucleotide sequences in 12 patients from several locations, a finding consistent with a point-source outbreak. Indirect fluorescence antibody tests and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays made with the new isolate have been used to demonstrate a virus-specific serologic response. This virus may never before have circulated in the U.S. population. A novel coronavirus is associated with this outbreak, and the evidence indicates that this virus has an etiologic role in SARS. Because of the death of Dr. Carlo Urbani, we propose that our first isolate be named the Urbani strain of SARS-associated coronavirus. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Identification of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Canada.

            Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a condition of unknown cause that has recently been recognized in patients in Asia, North America, and Europe. This report summarizes the initial epidemiologic findings, clinical description, and diagnostic findings that followed the identification of SARS in Canada. SARS was first identified in Canada in early March 2003. We collected epidemiologic, clinical, and diagnostic data from each of the first 10 cases prospectively as they were identified. Specimens from all cases were sent to local, provincial, national, and international laboratories for studies to identify an etiologic agent. The patients ranged from 24 to 78 years old; 60 percent were men. Transmission occurred only after close contact. The most common presenting symptoms were fever (in 100 percent of cases) and malaise (in 70 percent), followed by nonproductive cough (in 100 percent) and dyspnea (in 80 percent) associated with infiltrates on chest radiography (in 100 percent). Lymphopenia (in 89 percent of those for whom data were available), elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels (in 80 percent), elevated aspartate aminotransferase levels (in 78 percent), and elevated creatinine kinase levels (in 56 percent) were common. Empirical therapy most commonly included antibiotics, oseltamivir, and intravenous ribavirin. Mechanical ventilation was required in five patients. Three patients died, and five have had clinical improvement. The results of laboratory investigations were negative or not clinically significant except for the amplification of human metapneumovirus from respiratory specimens from five of nine patients and the isolation and amplification of a novel coronavirus from five of nine patients. In four cases both pathogens were isolated. SARS is a condition associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. It appears to be of viral origin, with patterns suggesting droplet or contact transmission. The role of human metapneumovirus, a novel coronavirus, or both requires further investigation. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              Characterization of an avian influenza A (H5N1) virus isolated from a child with a fatal respiratory illness.

              An avian H5N1 influenza A virus (A/Hong Kong/156/97) was isolated from a tracheal aspirate obtained from a 3-year-old child in Hong Kong with a fatal illness consistent with influenza. Serologic analysis indicated the presence of an H5 hemagglutinin. All eight RNA segments were derived from an avian influenza A virus. The hemagglutinin contained multiple basic amino acids adjacent to the cleavage site, a feature characteristic of highly pathogenic avian influenza A viruses. The virus caused 87.5 to 100 percent mortality in experimentally inoculated White Plymouth Rock and White Leghorn chickens. These results may have implications for global influenza surveillance and planning for pandemic influenza.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Lancet
                Lancet
                Lancet (London, England)
                Elsevier Ltd.
                0140-6736
                1474-547X
                23 October 2003
                25 October 2003
                23 October 2003
                : 362
                : 9393
                : 1353-1358
                Affiliations
                [a ]Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Guangzhou Medical College, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, Peoples Republic of China
                [b ]Department of Microbiology, University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR
                [c ]Guangzhou Chest Hospital, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
                [d ]Guangzhou Children's Hospital, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence to: Dr Y Guan, Department of Microbiology, University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China yguan@ 123456hkucc.hku.hk
                Article
                S0140-6736(03)14630-2
                10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14630-2
                7112415
                14585636
                1b4189a5-bed0-4c05-9a4e-d72fdb57aa93
                Copyright © 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

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