Taiwan experienced a large number of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) viral infections between March and July 2003; by September of that year, 346 SARS cases were confirmed by RT-PCR or serological tests. In order to better understand evolutionary relationships among SARS coronaviruses (SCoVs) from different international regions, we performed phylogenetic comparisons of full-length genomic and protein sequences from 45 human SCoVs (including 12 from Taiwan) and two civet SCoVs. All the Taiwanese SARS-CoV strains which associated with nosocomial infection formed a monophyletic clade within the late phase of the SARS epidemic. This Taiwanese clade could be further divided into two epidemic waves. Taiwan SCoVs in the first wave clustered with three isolates from the Amoy Gardens housing complex in Hong Kong indicating their possible origin. Of the 45 human SCoVs, one isolate from Guangdong province, China, exhibited an extra 29-nucleotide fragment between Orf 10 and Orf 11 - similar to the civet SCoV genome. Nucleotide and protein sequence comparisons suggested that all SCoVs of late epidemic came from human-to-human transmission, while certain SCoVs of early epidemic might have originated in animals.
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