Animals suspected in spread of new respiratory virus
LONDON (AP) - Britain's Health Protection Agency has published an early genetic sequence of the new respiratory virus related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) that shows it is most closely linked to bat viruses, and scientists say camels, 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.
Global health officials say they haven't found evidence the virus can spread between people and suspect two victims from the Middle East may have caught it from animals.
"It's a logical possibility to consider any animals present in the region in large numbers," said Mr Ralph Baric, a coronavirus expert at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Biologists now need to go into the area and take samples from any animals they can get their hands on, including camels and goats," he said. Mr Baric said it was crucial to find out how widespread the virus is in animals and what kind of contact might be risky for people.