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Wed, 26.03.2003
pte20030326032 Health/Medicine, Science/Technology
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New theory on SARS virus
CDC thinks disease may be caused by coronavirus

Atlanta (pte032/26.03.2003/13:17) - The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has reported a new hypothesis on the nature of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus.

"We are reporting today that our evidence indicates a new coronavirus is the leading hypothesis for the cause of this infection," CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said yesterday at a news briefing.

The CDC reported that it had found traces of the coronavirus in SARS patients. Up to now researchers in the USA and Hong Kong believed the virus belonged to the paramyxovirus family. Two coronoaviruses known to infect humans are responsible for a third of common colds and other respiratory illnesses.

Gerbering however refrained from calling the findings conclusive. "We also are very respectful of other labs that are collaborating in this investigation and it's very premature to assign a cause or make dogmatic statements about the etiology," she said. She added that further tests were necessary to confirm the hypothesis.

The next steps will be to cultivate the virus from samples, sequence the viral genome and examine samples of patients in different stages of the disease.

According to the most recent official SARS update from the World Health Organization , 487 cases of SARS have been reported from 12 countries.

Measures have been taken to quarantine 700 people in Singapore. Authorities in Hong Kong have distributed 500,000 masks in an attempt to curb the spread of the disease. It is presumed the virus can only spread through close contact with an infected person.

Submitter: pressetext.europe
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