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      The management of coronavirus infections with particular reference to SARS

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          The human coronaviruses (HCoV) OC43 and 229E are common causes of upper respiratory tract infections. Severe diseases were rare, however, until the emergence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV in 2003. Since then, other novel CoV (NL63 and HKU1) have been described, and they have caused respiratory infections worldwide. Potentially exposed laboratory workers or animal handlers with rapidly progressive pneumonia not responding to standard antibacterial coverage must be isolated with contact and droplet, and for specific situations, airborne precautions, till rapid tests of respiratory and faecal samples are negative for SARS-CoV. Generally, the viral loads collected at different anatomical sites correlate with the severity of symptoms and mortality. Shedding of SARS-CoV peaks at day 10 after the onset of symptoms, which theoretically allows ample time for antiviral treatment. The disease is characterized by uncontrolled replication of the virus and a prominent pro-inflammatory response. No randomized controlled trials with a specific anti-coronavirus agent have been conducted with respect to therapy or prophylaxis. Reports using historical matched controls have suggested that treatment with interferon alfacon-1 (a synthetic interferon) combined with steroid, protease inhibitors together with ribavirin, or convalescent plasma containing neutralizing antibody, could be useful. Prophylaxis with interferon or hyperimmune globulin may be considered for unprotected exposure. The role of immunomodulators to decrease excessive inflammation remains elusive. Other non-SARS-CoV infections are generally milder in immunocompetent hosts, and scientific data on antiviral treatment of these viruses are scarce.

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          Coronavirus as a possible cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

          An outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been reported in Hong Kong. We investigated the viral cause and clinical presentation among 50 patients. We analysed case notes and microbiological findings for 50 patients with SARS, representing more than five separate epidemiologically linked transmission clusters. We defined the clinical presentation and risk factors associated with severe disease and investigated the causal agents by chest radiography and laboratory testing of nasopharyngeal aspirates and sera samples. We compared the laboratory findings with those submitted for microbiological investigation of other diseases from patients whose identity was masked. Patients' age ranged from 23 to 74 years. Fever, chills, myalgia, and cough were the most frequent complaints. When compared with chest radiographic changes, respiratory symptoms and auscultatory findings were disproportionally mild. Patients who were household contacts of other infected people and had older age, lymphopenia, and liver dysfunction were associated with severe disease. A virus belonging to the family Coronaviridae was isolated from two patients. By use of serological and reverse-transcriptase PCR specific for this virus, 45 of 50 patients with SARS, but no controls, had evidence of infection with this virus. A coronavirus was isolated from patients with SARS that might be the primary agent associated with this disease. Serological and molecular tests specific for the virus permitted a definitive laboratory diagnosis to be made and allowed further investigation to define whether other cofactors play a part in disease progression.
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            Viral shedding patterns of coronavirus in patients with probable severe acute respiratory syndrome

            Summary Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is thought to be caused by a novel coronavirus, SARS-associated coronavirus. We studied viral shedding of SARS coronavirus to improve diagnosis and infection control. Reverse-transcriptase PCR was done on 2134 specimens of different types. 355 (45%) specimens of nasopharyngeal aspirates and 150 (28%) of faeces were positive for SARS coronavirus RNA. Positive rates peaked at 6–11 days after onset of illness for nasopharyngeal aspirates (87 of 149 [58%], to 37 of 62 [60%]), and 9–14 days for faeces (15 of 22 [68%], to 26 of 37 [70%]). Overall, peak viral loads were reached at 12–14 days of illness when patients were probably in hospital care, which would explain why hospital workers were prone to infection. Low rate of viral shedding in the first few days of illness meant that early isolation measures would probably be effective.
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              HIV protease inhibitor nelfinavir inhibits replication of SARS-associated coronavirus

              A novel coronavirus has been identified as an etiological agent of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). To rapidly identify anti-SARS drugs available for clinical use, we screened a set of compounds that included antiviral drugs already in wide use. Here we report that the HIV-1 protease inhibitor, nelfinavir, strongly inhibited replication of the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Nelfinavir inhibited the cytopathic effect induced by SARS-CoV infection. Expression of viral antigens was much lower in infected cells treated with nelfinavir than in untreated infected cells. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis showed that nelfinavir could decrease the production of virions from Vero cells. Experiments with various timings of drug addition revealed that nelfinavir exerted its effect not at the entry step, but at the post-entry step of SARS-CoV infection. Our results suggest that nelfinavir should be examined clinically for the treatment of SARS and has potential as a good lead compound for designing anti-SARS drugs.

                Author and article information

                J Antimicrob Chemother
                J. Antimicrob. Chemother
                Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
                Oxford University Press
                September 2008
                18 June 2008
                : 62
                : 3
                : 437-441
                Department of Microbiology, Research Centre of Infection and Immunology, The University of Hong Kong , 4/F University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital, 102 Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author. Tel: +852-28554892; Fax: +852-28551241; E-mail: kyyuen@ 123456hkucc.hku.hk
                © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

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