Bats, Civets and the Emergence of SARS

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2007;315:325-44. doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-70962-6_13.

Abstract

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was the first pandemic transmissible disease of previously unknown aetiology in the twenty-first century. Early epidemiologic investigations suggested an animal origin for SARS-CoV. Virological and serological studies indicated that masked palm civets ( Paguma larvata), together with two other wildlife animals, sampled from a live animal market were infected with SARS-CoV or a closely related virus. Recently, horseshoe bats in the genus Rhinolophus have been identified as natural reservoir of SARS-like coronaviruses. Here, we review studies by different groups demonstrating that SARS-CoV succeeded in spillover from a wildlife reservoir (probably bats) to human population via an intermediate host(s) and that rapid virus evolution played a key role in the adaptation of SARS-CoVs in at least two nonreservoir species within a short period.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / virology*
  • Chiroptera / virology
  • Disease Outbreaks / veterinary
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary
  • Humans
  • SARS Virus / pathogenicity*
  • SARS Virus / physiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / veterinary*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology
  • Species Specificity
  • Viverridae / virology
  • Zoonoses*