Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, the first identified strain of the SARS coronavirus species severe acute respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus. The first known cases occurred in November 2002, and the syndrome caused the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak. In the 2010s, Chinese scientists traced the virus through the intermediary of Asian palm civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Xiyang Yi Ethnic Township, Yunnan. SARS was a relatively rare disease; at the end of the epidemic in June 2003, the incidence was 8,469 cases with a case fatality rate of 11%. No cases of SARS-CoV-1 have been reported worldwide since 2004. In December 2019, another strain of SARS-CoV was identified as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. This new strain causes coronavirus disease 2019, a disease which brought about the COVID-19 pandemic.

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