Molecular Epidemiology of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome–Associated Coronavirus Infections in Taiwan
The University of Chicago Press -- The Journal of Infectious Diseases
DOI 10.1086/428591

Background In 2003, Taiwan experienced a series of outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and 1 laboratory-contamination accident. Here we describe a new phylogenetic analytical method to study the sources and dissemination paths of SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infections in Taiwan
Methods A phylogenetic analytical tool for combining nucleotide sequences from 6 variable regions of a SARS-CoV genome was developed by use of 20 published SARS-CoV sequences; and this method was validated by use of 80 published SARS-CoV sequences. Subsequently, this new tool was applied to provide a better understanding of the entire complement of Taiwanese SARS-CoV isolates, including 20 previously published and 19 identified in this study. The epidemiological data were integrated with the results from the phylogenetic tree and from the nucleotide-signature pattern
Results The topologies of phylogenetic trees generated by the new and the conventional strategies were similar, with the former having better robustness than the latter, especially in comparison with the maximum-likelihood trees: the new strategy revealed that during 2003 there were 5 waves of epidemic SARS-CoV infection, which belonged to 3 phylogenetic clusters in Taiwan
Conclusions The new strategy is more efficient than its conventional counterparts. The outbreaks of SARS in Taiwan originated from multiple sources