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Prevention of future SARS epidemics through the control of animal and human infection

EC contribution
: € 1 596 556
: 36 months
Starting date
: 01/04/2004
: emerging infections, SARS, Coronavirus, China
Project Number
: SP22-CT-2004-511063


This project, whose aim was the prevention of future Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemics through the control of animal and human infections, led to very significant discoveries: (1) the identification of horseshoe bats as the natural reservoir of infections, (2) the confirmation of the role played by masked palm civets as intermediate hosts, and (3) the prevention of future epidemics by wellcoordinated hospital-based surveillance and field investigations.


In November 2002, a previously unrecognised animal Coronavirus (CoV) emerged from the 'wet markets' (i.e. meat and fish market) of China to pose a worldwide threat to public health systems. Within 8 months, more than 8 000 people had been infected in 25 countries spread over 5 continents, and 774 had died from the disease. Although the number of fatalities was small compared to deaths related to HIV or malaria, the short-term impact of SARS was much wider.

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