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At least three species of wild animal sold in China's markets have been found to harbour the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The animals were identified in Guangdong, where SARS originated.

Researchers were surprised to find more than one or two animal reservoirs for the disease. This raises fears that the tests they are using are not specific enough, according to an expert delegation representing the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. As the disease is believed to be seasonal, this failure to identify a single reservoir raises fears of a renewed outbreak during the coming winter.

Meanwhile, the delegation, including researchers from China and overseas, has called for restrictions on the sale and consumption of wild animals in China.

Link to news story in Nature

Reference: Nature 424, 983 (2003)

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