Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 14, 2004

SARS More Easily Spread Than Previously Thought

One of the most important steps in understanding and containing the spread of disease epidemics is to determine the means by which the germ infects one person after another. After last year's frightening outbreak of SARS in Vietnam, China and Canada, doctors had thought that the SARS coronavirus was spread only through droplets coughed or sneezed by an infected person.

Now a study of tissues from four Chinese SARS victims suggests that the disease may spread through contaminated food and water and by simple touching or kissing. That's because the Chinese pathologists found SARS in 12 organs and tissues throughout the victims' bodies, including the lung, trachea, stomach, small intestine, sweat gland, liver and cerebrum.

As a result, writes pathologist Ding Yanqing and his colleagues (in a thesis published in the British Journal of Pathology), "In addition to masks, SARS patients may have to wear gloves, disposable gowns and eye protection, and to avoid kissing and touching other people."


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