Proof that a newly identified coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is the primary cause of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) came from a series of studies on experimentally infected cynomolgus macaques (Macaca, fascicularis). SARS-CoV-infected macaques developed a disease comparable to SARS in humans; the virus was re-isolated from these animals and they developed SARS-CoV-specific antibodies. This completed the fulfilment of Koch's postulates, as modified by Rivers for viral diseases, for SARS-CoV as the aetiological agent of SARS. Besides the macaque model, a ferret and a cat model for SARS-CoV were also developed. These animal models allow comparative pathogenesis studies for SARS-CoV infections and testing of different intervention strategies. The first of these studies has shown that pegylated interferon-α, a drug approved for human use, limits SARS-CoV replication and lung damage in experimentally infected macaques. Finally, we argue that, given the worldwide nature of the socio-economic changes that have predisposed for the emergence of SARS and avian influenza in Southeast Asia, such changes herald the beginning of a global trend for which we are ill prepared.

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Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences
Department of Virology

Osterhaus, A., Fouchier, R., & Kuiken, T. (2004). The aetiology of SARS: Koch's postulates fulfilled. In Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences (Vol. 359, pp. 1081–1082). doi:10.1098/rstb.2004.1489