Sars Virus Came From
New Straits Times (M) Berhad
09:31:49 - 16/04/2003 : Scientists: "Sars virus came from animals"
A new genetic sequencing of the SARS virus has proved conclusively that it came from animals, researchers in Hong Kong said today.
The University of Hong Kong researchers also said they believe that the virus mutated into a more dangerous form that infected about 300 people in one hard-hit apartment block there.
"This virus did not originally exist in humans, it definitely comes from animals," said microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung.
Sars has killed over 300 worldwide. More than 5,000 people have fallen ill.
After cracking the genetic code, as researchers in Canada and the US did in recent days, the Hong Kong scientists agreed it was a new version of the coronavirus, which can cause common colds, but unlike any seen before.
"If this virus had been very close to the rat virus, mouse virus or pig virus, one could clearly say this is the origin," said Malik Peiris, another microbiologist at the university.
"But what this is telling us is that in fact, this virus is not close to any of the known human viruses," Peiris said. "It is something that is new to science."
"That whole genome is essentially new," he said. "Nature has been the terrorist throwing up this new virus."
SARS Alert: Peta urges Asians to go vegetarian
An animal rights advocacy group urged Asians today to go vegetarian amid fears that the SARS virus may have originated from livestock in southern China. "Stop eating meat," the US based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) said in a recent statement.
The global death toll from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is about 320 with some 5,000 cases reported, mostly in East Asia.
Peta, which advocates a vegetarian diet as the answer to many human ailments, said "intensively confining animals creates filth that allows diseases to spread like wildfire".
"As people in Asia eat more meat, they are putting the rest of the world at risk," the statement said, citing a "highly healthy" trend in the West toward vegetarian diets. — AFP
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