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Researcher: Sweat may transmit SARS virus
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-10 00:20

Sweat and excrement may transmit the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus, says a medical expert from Guangzhou.

"The SARS coronavirus was also found in organs beyond the respiratory system, including patients' stomach, small intestine and kidney," said Ding Yanqing, an pathologist with the First Military Medical University based in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

His announcement was based on eight months of research on bodies of four SARS patients. Ding is director of the pathology research institute in the university and member of the province's anti-SARS taskforce.

He first noticed during last spring's outbreak that people can be infected by SARS even if they wear protective masks.

"There must be other virus transmission channels," he told China Daily.

Antibody and gene tests helped prove his hypothesis.

"SARS virus were detected in urinary, excretory and digestive organs of four patients, who were among the early victims of the diseases last spring," he said.

However, some experts are conservative on the point.

Xu Ruiheng, an epidemiologist with Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control said transmission via the respiratory system is always the dominant factor. Transmission by sweat, even if it is true, can be neglected, he said.

Roy Wadia, spokesman for Beijing Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) said he has already heard of the study.

"We will give comments after further study..." he said in a telephone interview with China Daily.

China has made no official announcement on the study.

Ding's findings will appear in the June issue of the British journal "General Pathology".

SARS epidemic

Sources from the Ministry of Health said Sunday there were no new SARS cases on the Chinese mainland between Saturday and Sunday.

The Beijing SARS patient surnamed Zhang, who was in critical condition for the past few days, is still in a serious condition due to previous diseases.

Other patients are recovering.

The body temperatures of Li, Xu and Teng have been normal for ten, eight and five days.

In addition, the ministry said the Anhui SARS patient Song is now in good condition with normal temperature for 16 days.

and she has been able to do exercises out of bed for a week and wash clothes by herself, said Sun Gengyun, the doctor in charge of her treatment at the No.1 Hospital affiliated to the Anhui University of Medical Sciences,

Song was expected to be discharged from hospital today, said hospital sources.

All the other SARS patients in Beijing are in stable condition and continue recovering.

So far none of the people in close contact with the reported SARS cases in Beijing have shown abnormal symptoms and the city has removed 693 from medical observation, the ministry said.

On Saturday, 20 experts sent by WHO and China's Ministry of Health again went to the Virology Institute of Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention - where they believe the most recent outbreak originated - to make further studies.

Experts said the institute may have SARS virus but they are not sure whether the virus came from the laboratory or from careless leakage.

Sources from the Ministry of Health said the investigation is ongoing but it may take time to confirm the cause of the infection.

The WHO has sent 16 experts to join the investigation, while China's Ministry of Health has set up an investigation group consisting of experts from the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Science and Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The experts also conducted field investigations and collected samples at the laboratory, the ministry said, adding that the samples have been sent to two Chinese national laboratories and a WHO network laboratory for testing.

"We have to wait for a certain period for the result of WHO network laboratory for testing... not know when, because now there is no 100 per cent of conclusion and work is still going on," said Wadia.

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