Prevalence of IgG antibody to SARS-associated coronavirus in animal traders--Guangdong Province, China, 2003.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Oct 17; 52(41):986-7.MM
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was identified in 2003 as an infectious disease caused by the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV), a member of the coronavirus family not observed previously in humans. Because its sequence data differ from that of known human coronaviruses, SARS-CoV is suspected to have crossed the species barrier between an animal host and humans. The SARS outbreak began in China's Guangdong Province, where approximately 1,500 probable cases were identified during November 2002-June 2003. Detection of SARS-like coronavirus has been reported previously in masked palm civets (sometimes called civet cats) and a raccoon dog for sale in a live animal market in Shenzhen municipality. This report summarizes results of an investigation conducted by public health authorities in Guangdong Province, which compared the seroprevalence of SARS-CoV IgG antibody in animal traders (i.e., workers in live animal markets) with that of persons in control groups. The results indicated that 13% of the animal traders, none of whom had SARS diagnosed, had IgG antibody to SARS-CoV, compared with 1%-3% of persons in three control groups. Although the results provide indirect support for the hypothesis of an animal origin for SARS, they also underscore the need for detailed patient histories and more focused animal studies to confirm an animal origin for SARS.