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Out of China: SARS virus' genome hints at independent evolution

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12:02pm, April 23, 2003

The newly deciphered genome of the pathogen responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) suggests that the virus is the product of a long and private evolutionary history.

Since emerging from southern China in February, SARS has struck at least 4,000 people worldwide and killed more than 200. Disease researchers have launched a massive effort to understand the pathogen and control the epidemic.

On April 16, European scientists announced that they had demonstrated that the agent responsible for SARS is a coronavirus never detected before the current outbreak. In experiments on monkeys at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, researchers showed that the new coronavirus alone can cause SARS. Earlier in the outbreak, a member of a separate viral family was also a suspect (SN: 3/29/03, p. 198: Available to subscribers at Morbid Mystery

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