Health officials are concerned that the laboratory — and not the presumed animal reservoir — may be the most likely source for the reintroduction of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds of people last year.
The concerns have been provoked by a second accident in which a researcher was infected with the virus through contamination in the laboratory since the outbreak was contained in July.
The most recent case, confirmed in December, involved a researcher who had been screening antiviral drugs for effectiveness against the SARS coronavirus at the National Defense University in Taipei, Taiwan. The first accident occurred last August in Singapore, when a researcher contracted the disease through working with samples of West Nile virus that had been contaminated with the SARS coronavirus.
Reference: Science 303, 26 (2004)