New SARS virus linked to bats

Updated 23 November 2012
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New SARS virus linked to bats

PARIS: A novel strain of the deadly SARS virus that sparked a health scare this year is closely related to a virus found in Asian bats, according to a study published on Tuesday.
Scientists in the Netherlands said they had sequenced the genetic code of a viral sample taken from a 60-year-old man whose death in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in June triggered fears that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was returning in a new guise.
The new strain, called HCoV-EMC/2012, is part of a viral family called coronavirus, but in a specific category called betacoronavirus.
Its closest known cousins are a strain found in lesser bamboo bats (Tylonycteris pachypus) and another found in Japanese house bats, Pipistrellus abramus.
“The virus is most closely related to viruses in bats in Asia, and there are no human viruses closely related to it,” said Ron Fouchier of the prestigious Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.
“Therefore we speculate that it comes from an animal source,” he said, noting that Pipistrellus bats are present in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.
An epidemic of SARS erupted in China in 2002, eventually claiming around 800 deaths in some 30 countries.
Bats were linked with a novel strain of SARS found in 2005. Hong Kong researchers found a natural “reservoir” of it in Chinese horseshoe bats.
Two other men have also fallen sick in the latest SARS episode.
One is a Qatari man who had been in Saudi Arabia and is being treated at a hospital in London.
There is 99.6-99.7 percent similarity between his strain and the virus sequenced in the Netherlands, said Fouchier in a press release.
“They are the same species,” he said, adding that the difference was sufficient to suggest that the men had been infected by different sources.
The other is a Saudi man whose case was announced earlier this month by the Saudi health ministry, which on November 4 described him as cured.
The genomic sequence of that virus is not yet available, Fouchier said.
The WHO said that what set the new virus apart from SARS was that it causes rapid kidney failure.
Fears rose last month over the potential spread of the virus during the Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. But the kingdom’s health ministry repeatedly reassured pilgrims that no epidemic outbreaks had been registered.
The new paper appears in mBio, an online journal of the American Society for Microbiology.


Muse: Saudi-Hawaiian yoga instructor Hanan Faiz talks self-discovery

Hanan Faiz is a Jeddah-based yoga instructor. (Photo supplied)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Muse: Saudi-Hawaiian yoga instructor Hanan Faiz talks self-discovery

JEDDAH: The Jeddah-based Saudi-Hawaiian yoga instructor talks self-discovery, finding peace and ketchup.

Yoga has taught me to accept myself. I never thought I’d be able to say I love myself, but 99 percent of our struggles are mental — many of our negative beliefs aren’t true. With time, you realize that and think to yourself, “I’m not so bad.”

People think because I practice and teach yoga that I’m some sort of guru — cue angelic hymns in the background — and that I have everything figured out and am so peaceful. On the contrary, I practice yoga because I’m a bit crazy. Part of me is peaceful, but yoga is just one page in the book of my life, but that’s the image they see on my social media.

Humans love drama. We all want this fancy super-food gimmick that’s going to heal us. And a lot of first-timers think yoga will (magically) bring them peace and they’ll be practicing this cool, calm yoga flow. They don’t understand that I can’t bring them peace. It’s within themselves, and practice isn’t always fun. But I feel like people keep coming back because they’re tapping into self-discovery.

I get the weirdest things as gifts. I once got a package of different sauces and ketchup. I can’t even get my mind around that one.

I’m a believer in natural remedies but by far the quirkiest thing I’ve ever bought was eye drops from India made of onion, garlic, lemon and ginger extract. I tried it and felt like my eyes were on fire. But a few seconds later the burning sensation was gone and I could see better. I swear it works.

Less is more. We don’t need a lot to be happy.

I have found courage and acceptance that things can or can’t work out. I don’t allow fear to rule or take over my decisions. If it’s meant to be, then I’m grateful, and even if it isn’t, I’m still grateful. Everything that happened in the past led to who and what I am today. So I don’t have any regrets.