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Civet cats the dominant human SARS-like coronavirus carries
( 2004-01-06 22:26) (Xinhua)

The research data show the viral genetic sequence from the first recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) patient in neighboring Guangdong province is very similar to that of civet cats, experts from the mainland and Hong Kong said here Monday.

A long term collaborative research effort led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of Guangdong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou and the department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) shows that human SARS-like coronavirus is found to exist in many wild animals after an extensive sampling in the wild animal markets. The experts gave the proof at Monday's news briefing.

The frequency of virus detection is the highest among the civet cats which indicates that civet cats are the dominant carries of human SARS-like coronavirus.

Civet cats are not firstly refereed to as the main carriers of human SARS-like coronavirus. In last May, scientists in Hong Kong and Guangdong province said they have traced SARS virus to civet cats. But experts from the China Agricultural University and some other units said "there has been no definite evidence to indicate the civet cats are sources of SARS."

Zhong Nanshan, member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said Monday the latest finding shows that "there is strong link of human SARS-like virus between civet cats and the human being."

He said viral genetic sequence suggests that the Guangdong SARS patient and the coronavirus found in some civet cats "may be of the same lineage and are different from the animal or human SARS- like coronavirus found early last year."

This indicated that another sublineage of SARS-like coronavirus has again jumped from wild animals into human in the past month, he said.

In order to stop another outbreak of SARS, there is need to control and manage the rearing, sale, transport, slaughter and the food processing of the animals, Zhong noted.

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