SARS is back in Canada, after they thought they’d finally gotten rid of it. The good news is that it’s a milder version of the disease. Viruses mutate, which is why it’s hard to get rid of them for good. In this case, SARS seems to be mutating into a less deadly form.

The new SARS killed six elderly residents in a nursing home in Canada. However, a total of 150 people, both residents and staff members, got the disease and most of them recovered completely. The six who died had symptoms of the usual type of pneumonia, rather than the overwhelming symptoms of SARS. The elderly have always been most vulnerable to SARS, but this new version will probably not be as dangerous for other people. A total of 44 people died in Toronto from the earlier version of SARS. For some reason, the new, milder SARS jumped to an area almost 3,000 miles from the site of the earlier epidemic.

Iain Simpson, of the World Health Organization, says, “The question is?was this indeed the coronavirus that causes SARS? If so, how come it hasn’t caused SARS as we understand it in this case, and if not, how come the test results came back positive?”

David Patrick, of the British Columbia Center for Disease Control, says the “pattern of illness” was different. “We know that this could be a mutated SARS coronavirus that has lost virulence, and that’s the favorite hypothesis among many people.”

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