GENEVA—Rare Chinese masked palm civet cats, a medicinal food animal in Southern China eaten to reduce the chance of winter infections like colds and flu, contain the coronavirus thought to cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Chinese and Hong Kong scientists have announced. So did a single racoon dog tested. Coypu and rabbits were free of the virus, but common Chinese pets and food animals like dogs, cats, sheep and goats remain untested, Klaus Stöhr, director of the World Health Organization's global SARS laboratory network, told The Scientist Monday (May 26).

The virus found in the civet cats is not identical to the coronavirus found in SARS patients; the human virus has 29 fewer nucleotides in the N-protein. "The human virus has a deletion. We think the N-protein is attached to the interior of the virus envelope, but our knowledge about this is schematic. We don't know what the protein...

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