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Wed, 19.03.2003
pte20030319019 Health/Medicine, Science/Technology
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Breakthrough analysis of killer virus
Chinese researchers identify SARS type

Hong Kong (pte019/19.03.2003/11:48) - Doctors in Hong Kong have reported a breakthrough in the analysis of a deadly lung disease that broke out recently in China.

According to the Hong Kong Standard , researchers have been able to identify the so-called SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus as a member of the paramyxoviridae family. This is the same family that causes measles and mumps. Further details have not yet been released.

Researchers at the Department of Microbiology at the University of China identified the virus with an electron microscope. Their theory was confirmed last night with the use of a molecular technique that revealed the nucleic acid sequence of the virus.

The team under the direction of John Tam confirmed that the antiviral preparation now used to treat infected patients is the correct one. Lo Wing lok, president of the Hong Kong Medical Association , has said however that further investigations are necessary to find out whether SARS is indeed a new virus, and whether people infected with the lung disease can be cured.

Three people may have recently died of SARS in Hong Kong and Vietnam. One of these was a French doctor, who it is assumed became infected while treating an American businessman. A Vietnamese nurse also died. The Hong Kong Prince of Wales Hospital has reported that an old man has also died, but it is still not clear whether he was infected with SARS.

World Health Organization (WHO) speaker Peter Cordingely has said the WHO intends to investigate these new developments. Up to now the WHO has reported 219 suspected cases of SARS, most of them in Hong Kong (123), Vietnam (57) and Singapore (23).

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