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The search for the animal reservoir that harbours the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) edged forward on two fronts this week.

The first is publication of research in this week's Science Express that backs up suggestions that wild animal markets can transmit the virus to humans. The study, by Yi Guan of the University of Hong Kong and colleagues, points to masked palm civets and other wild species found in markets in southern China as possible hosts of the SARS virus.

The second development is that a joint team of experts representing the Chinese government, the World Health Organisation, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, have agreed on recommendations for monitoring the live animal trade and searching for a SARS reservoir. Their advice — including a call for expanded animal testing and international cooperation — was presented to Chinese authorities on 5 September.

Link to news story in Science
Link to research paper by Yi Guan et al in Science Express

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