- BEIJING -- A leading Sars
expert in China said on Wednesday the coronavirus which causes the respiratory
disease was found in a wider range of wild animals than previously reported,
including snakes and wild pigs.
- Zhong Nanshan, touted as China's first health expert
to identify the new disease, said Guangdong province's Center for Disease
Control and Prevention recently completed a study of 30 animal types and
found the virus in snakes, wild pigs, monkeys and bats.
- "It's in a lot of animals, but as far as whether
this disease is transmitted from animals to humans, we still don't know,"
said Zhong, director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases
in the provincial capital.
- He said the animals tested were taken from wildlife markets
in the province in southern China, where the disease is believed to have
- Zhong was speaking at the end of the China-hosted two-day
"ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK (10+3) High-level Symposium on severe
acute respiratory syndrome."
- A previous study conducted by Shenzhen city's Center
for Disease Control in Guangdong province and Hong Kong University found
the virus in masked palm civets and raccoon dogs, scientists who did the
study announced last month.
- Zhong said the Guangdong CDC's study looked at a wider
variety and larger number of animals than the Shenzhen-Hong Kong study.
- Zhong also told reporters that 5% of the Sars patients
in Guangdong province were chefs who made wildlife cuisine or people who
bought wildlife for restaurants.
- But Zhong said it was not clear whether these people
all had contact with the type of animals found to have the virus.
- Studies on household pets were also conducted, but researchers
did not find evidence of Sars in the pets, Zhong said.
- The mysterious respiratory disease is suspected to have
originated in wildlife and jumped to humans.
- Zhong said the study he was referring to found a high
similarity between the virus found in the animals and the one found in
humans. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong study also found strong likeness.