In the last few months, severe acute respiratory syndrome has infected thousands in Asia, traveled to various parts of the world and gained international attention. In April 2003, the disease was conclusively identified as a type of coronavirus unlike any other known human or animal virus in the Coronavirus family.
Sanjay Kapil, a Kansas State University associate professor of diagnostic medicine pathobiology, says human interference with domestic and wild animals could be a factor in the development of the disease.
Samples of the pathogens identified in severe acute respiratory syndrome look similar to coronaviruses found in animals. Because the sequences found in human samples are unique, the virus must have changed substantially when it transferred from animals to humans, Kapil said.