One of the most intriguing aspects of coronavirus associated severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been the circumstances under which virus is transmitted to large numbers of persons. One so-called superspreading event occurred in a Hong Kong hotel, when transmission from an ill traveler from Guangdong led to export of the virus to several other countries. Another highly effective episode of viral transmission occurred onboard China Air's flight 112 from Hong Kong to Beijing on March 15, 2003. Superspreading also played major roles in transmission of SARS within Singapore and Toronto. The potential to transmit SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) to large numbers of contacts is likely influenced by factors associated with the host, agent, and environment. To develop hypotheses for future international evaluation of this issue, this document reviews the circumstances of transmission associated with individual superspreading events.
Emerging Infectious Diseases (February 2004), v.10, no.2, p. 256-260