Intended for healthcare professionals


Hong Kong and US scientists believe illness is a coronavirus

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 05 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:727
  1. Jane Parry,
  2. Hong Kong

    Scientists at the University of Hong Kong's department of microbiology believe they have identified the cause of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome as a new strain of the coronavirus. The team used polymerase chain reaction technology and an immunofluorescent antibody test to identify the virus, and the scientists suspect that the disease originated from animals.

    “It is not a typical coronavirus and further study is needed to find its closest relation,” explained Professor Malik Peirius, chief of virology at the university's department of microbiology.

    The Hong Kong team's identification of the virus concurs with findings from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other laboratories. “We continue to regard the new coronavirus as the leading hypothesis for the aetiology of this condition. The evidence is mounting from a number of international laboratories,” said Dr Julie Gerberding, director of the CDC.

    However, the existence of other viruses associated with the disease and the possibility that it is also airborne have not been ruled out. “We believe the major mode of …

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