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Animals suspected in spread of new virus

8:48 AM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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LONDON (AP) -- Britain's Health Protection Agency says early genetic analysis shows that the new respiratory virus related to SARS is most closely related to bat viruses. They say sheep or goats might end up being implicated too.

So far, there are no signs the virus will be as deadly as SARS, which killed hundreds of people, mostly in Asia, in a 2003 global outbreak. And global health officials say they haven't found evidence the virus can spread between people. They suspect the two victims from the Middle East may have caught it from animals.

Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says biologists now need to go to the region and take samples from animals such as camels and goats. But Baric suggests that bats might be spreading the virus directly to humans since the two confirmed infections happened months apart.

One patient was a Saudi Arabian man who died several months ago while the other is a Qatari national who traveled to Saudi Arabia before falling ill. He's in critical but stable condition in a London hospital.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Associated Press

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