It was originally found in northern China’s Xinyi and Hebei provinces and in Jilin province. The World Health Organization warned that the risk of human infection is high and may not be completely contained but that health authorities must continue to monitor all the locations where the cases were diagnosed and report on the results. Dr. Andrew Witty , from the CDC’s respiratory diseases branch in Atlanta, GA, said that SARS is a classic coronavirus, which means it can infect people directly and not spread to their bodies as through respiratory illnesses such as Sars. Dr. Witty said the same bacteria that causes SARS also can be found in human lungs, which means they are susceptible to this type of infection.
I am in China, where these “new” infections appeared…
According to this paper’s authors, they did not find any specific similarities with SARS. Here is a brief account of why they’re so certain they are NOT SARS:
In the absence of a known commonality and without prior work suggesting this relationship, we present a new, coronavirus-like coronavirus (CVO), SARS10/99, which is characterized by an unusual phenotype and a low prevalence by the host-parasite ratios we assessed. Our observations suggest that CVOs may be of recent origin; however, the specific molecular and ecological relationship we present is uncertain.
I’m not convinced by the authors’ theory, but I doubt if a high prevalence would necessarily be a genetic indicator of recent origin (although it seems logical in a virus). One more thing, it’s not hard to imagine this strain of Sars being a new type. I looked carefully at a recent study that looked at the DNA of bats which have the “new” SARS-like respiratory virus. What little evidence it has the authors of that paper do not make any sense as supporting any kind of comparison with SARS. Specifically, they found no molecular markers of SARS, which suggests the case of the “new” SARS isn’t specific to bats, but rather to any type of animal infected with the SARS-like bug. Not exactly the most convincing or convincing evidence we’ve ever had of new SARS.
Anyway, I’m done with the SARS-related coronaviruses, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about this particular one. The research, at least from the paper, is promising. SARS can cause mild flu-like symptoms, and they report that SARS-like infections “often have a poor prognosis and mortality”. If these infections turn out to be genuine, then that could mean a better long-term prognosis than the current treatments, which have a low chance of eradication and sometimes result in severe morbidity and mortality. Or perhaps the SARS virus is not unique–it could be part of a pool of viruses that have developed that do have a chance of eradication, but might not have a particularly favorable prognosis.
I look forward to reading these claims, if they turn out to be true and convincing. Stay tuned. This one is fascinating.