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SARS May be More Common than Thought

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MILWAUKEE, Oct 17, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A surprising number of Chinese animal traders were infected with the virus that causes SARS, a new study reported Friday.

The study suggested to health officials the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome may have been far more common than believed and many people may have had it without showing symptoms.

The research also strengthens the likelihood the new virus crossed to humans from a yet-to-be-determined animal source, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said.

The study, done by Chinese researchers and reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the most extensive yet involving blood samples tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Until now, health officials had thought the virus caused only the severe cases of pneumonia that came to light during the outbreak last spring.

What's surprising about this study, said Dennis Maki, chief of infectious diseases at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the high rate of infection in people who weren't sick.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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