Now that China has finally admitted the SARS epidemic started in the southern province of Guangdong and is letting investigators into the country, new discoveries are being made about the virus. One of these is that the first people who came down with the disease ate or handled wild game, such as chickens, ducks and owls. “We will explore further if the disease was passed to human beings from wild animals. You know, Guangdong people like eating exotic animals and I don’t find it a healthy practice,” says Bi Shengli, of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The earliest cases of SARS have been traced to either chefs or bird sellers.
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An American Airlines flight from Tokyo was quarantined on the landing strip at San Jose’s airport after five people, including two crew members, complained of SARS-like symptoms. Ambulances lined up near the plane as the 125 passengers and 14 crew members waited on board after the nine-hour flight. Joy Alexiou, of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, says of the people on board who reported to the crew during the flight that they “think they may have SARS, we’re pretty sure four of the five transferred from Hong Kong to Tokyo.” Three of the people were taken to the hospital, and the other two were released.
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On this week’s Dreamland, science reporter Linda Howe gives us a special report on SARS. It’s spreading fast, and health officials now admit they don’t have any effective medicine to treat it. An entire apartment building has been infected in Hong Kong, raising fears that SARS can be spread through the air, rather than by droplets from sneezing or coughing, the way most viruses spread. Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC, says, “The global epidemic continues to expand. We recognize this as an epidemic that is evolving.”
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For the first time, the Chinese government has admitted that almost about 3 dozen people have died and almost 800 are ill in an outbreak of the new mystery disease known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. Until now, they insisted that only five people had died from it. With all the war news on TV, our media is ignoring the increasing spread of SARS here in the U.S.?but not so in Canada, where they’ve declared a health emergency and may soon force people into quarantine.

Dr. Meirion Evans, of the World Health Organization (WHO) says, “We’re getting a more complete picture. It’s certainly been one of the objectives of the mission to clarify whether the outbreak in China was the same disease as what’s been seen outside of China.”
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