Chapter

Wildlife and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases: The Biology, Circumstances and Consequences of Cross-Species Transmission

Volume 315 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 325-344

Bats, Civets and the Emergence of SARS

  • L. -F. WangAffiliated withCSIRO Livestock Industries, Australian Animal Health Laboratory
  • , B. T. EatonAffiliated withCSIRO Livestock Industries, Australian Animal Health Laboratory

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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.