Possible role of an animal vector in the SARS outbreak at Amoy Gardens

Lancet. 2003 Aug 16;362(9383):570-2. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14121-9.


A mass outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the Amoy Gardens housing complex in Hong Kong at the end of March, 2003, affected more than 300 residents in less than a month, and has epidemiologists all over the world puzzled about the mode of transmission of this new disease, which until then was thought to be transmitted solely by respiratory droplets. The source of the outbreak was later traced to an individual with SARS who spent two nights at Amoy Gardens. Official explanations failed to account for the large number of residents infected over a wide area within a short time. A powerful environmental mechanism that efficiently amplified and distributed the causal agent must have been at work to cause this outbreak. One such mechanism could be an animal vector, most probably roof rats, that was infected by the index patient and subsequently spread the disease to more than 150 households.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cross Infection / transmission
  • Cross Infection / virology
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Vectors
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Rodent Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rodent Diseases / transmission*
  • Rodent Diseases / virology
  • SARS Virus / isolation & purification
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / veterinary
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / transmission*
  • Zoonoses / virology