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Bats may be the original source of SARS

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NEW YORK, Sep 29, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- A team of international scientists says it has identified bats as the original hosts of the deadly SARS virus.

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a viral respiratory illness. Starting in 2002, the illness spread from China to more than two dozen nations in Asia, North America, South America and Europe before the global outbreak was contained.

The virus sickened about 8,000 people and killed more than 700, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The study suggests SARS is still loose in the wild, and could re-emerge to infect humans again. But researchers told the Journal now that the original animal host has been identified, they can try to interrupt the virus transmission at an early stage, before it infects people.

To prevent another SARS outbreak, Peter Daszak, an author of the study, said the Chinese must "cut down the use of this bat for food and medicine."

Daszak is executive director of the Consortium for Conservation Medicine, a group of five scientific organizations participating in the study.

The group's paper was published Thursday on the Web site of the journal Science and will appear in the journal itself at a later date.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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