SARS could spread via coughs, sweat, urine
The deadly SARS virus might be more contagious than previously thought and possibly transmitted by contaminated food or water, droplets of mucus, urine, feces and sweat, scientists reported May 7.
Researchers at the Groningen University Hospital in the Netherlands and the First Military Medical University in Guangzhou, China, said their findings emphasized the need for more stringent infection-control measures.
Scientists from Guangzhou's First Military Medical University in China had carried out the research on four people who had died of SARS.
They found SARS virus or the coronavirus appeared in many organs and tissues of patients, including stomach, small intestine, sweat gland cell, liver and brain.
If these routines are confirmed, the SARS patients may have to wear gloves, disposable gowns and eye goggles, in addition to a full face mask, to avoid kissing or touching other people.
Scientists also say the virus may be released into environment via faeces and
urine from individuals with the disease.
Both research papers were published this week in the British Journal of Pathology.
"We revealed a small piece of the puzzle... which indicates that once the virus is in the blood it could affect all kinds of organs," said Dr Harry van Goor, one of the supervisors of the study in the Netherlands.
"There is a strong possibility that SARS could be spread via water and skin contact. Our findings may benefit a lot of people... and make them be very cautious about contact with SARS patients."
SARS infected more than 8,000 people in nearly 30 countries and killed nearly 800 in 2003. Although the outbreak was brought under control, public health experts say it could re-emerge.
Symptoms of SARS include a high fever accompanied by a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
Scientists identified as its cause a new virus from the family of corona viruses, which are also implicated in the common cold and a range of animal illnesses.
The Chinese scientists in Guangzhou analyzed tissues from four people who had died of the infection and produced findings similar to those of their Dutch colleagues, the Journal of Pathology said in a statement.
"As a result of our work we recommend new infection control measures, which include getting patients to wear gloves, disposable gowns and eye protection... and to avoid kissing or touching other people," the journal quoted Dr Yanqing Ding, the researcher who led the Chinese study, as saying.