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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1), the first-identified strain of the SARS coronavirus species severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARSr-CoV). The syndrome caused the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak. In late 2017, Chinese scientists traced the virus through the intermediary of Asian palm civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan.[3]

SARS was a relatively rare disease; at the end of the epidemic in June 2003, the incidence was 8,422 cases with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 11%.[4] No cases of SARS-CoV have been reported worldwide since 2004.[5] As of 2020, SARS is considered eradicated in humans, but as the virus also infects animals, it is possible that it will re-emerge again in the future.[6]

In late 2019, the related virus strain severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detected.[7] This new strain causes COVID-19, a disease which brought about the COVID-19 pandemic.[8]