Viral load distribution in SARS outbreak.Emerg Infect Dis. 2005 Dec; 11(12):1882-6.EI
An unprecedented community outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) occurred in the Amoy Gardens, a high-rise residential complex in Hong Kong. Droplet, air, contaminated fomites, and rodent pests have been proposed to be mechanisms for transmitting SARS in a short period. We studied nasopharyngeal viral load of SARS patients on admission and their geographic distribution. Higher nasopharyngeal viral load was found in patients living in adjacent units of the same block inhabited by the index patient, while a lower but detectable nasopharyngeal viral load was found in patients living further away from the index patient. This pattern of nasopharyngeal viral load suggested that airborne transmission played an important part in this outbreak in Hong Kong. Contaminated fomites and rodent pests may have also played a role.