New SARS virus linked to bats

Updated 23 November 2012

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.


Baby Talk: Are you going overboard regarding your children’s hygiene?

It’s been observed that children who are exposed to allergens and bacteria early in their infancy suffer less from the allergies and asthma later on. (Shutterstock)
Updated 27 January 2020

Baby Talk: Are you going overboard regarding your children’s hygiene?

  • Asthma and immune system specialists stress that excessively clean environments can promote allergies in later stages of children’s lives, especially food allergies and asthma

DUBAI: Do you overdo it when it comes to your children’s hygiene? How many hours a week do you spend sweeping your floors and sterilizing all spaces and toys your child touches? And how many times a day do you insist they wash their hands? How hard do you try to distance them from pets?

Have a look at the most important things you should know in terms of your children’s hygiene:

Over-emphasizing hygiene could hurt your children

Have you ever thought about the fact that moderation is key, even when it comes to children’s hygiene?

Maybe it’s time to take that approach. It’s been observed that children who are exposed to allergens and bacteria early in their infancy suffer less from the allergies and asthma later on.

Asthma and immune system specialists stress that excessively clean environments can promote allergies in later stages of children’s lives, especially food allergies and asthma. That’s because they were not exposed to allergens and bacteria at the beginning of their lives.

(Shutterstock) 

Rates of asthma and allergies are higher in developed countries

This theory is based on an important observation about the high rates of asthma or, for example, eczema in developed countries, compared with the rates recorded by third world countries where standards of hygiene are looser and more dependent on the immune system.

It was also observed that children brought up on farms were less affected than others by different types of allergies. As a result, specialists translate these results into scientific health standards.

Children’s hygiene experts’ preliminary recommendations for you:

There’s no harm in your child getting dirty while playing or eating.

Don’t over-sterilize your child’s hands during the day.

Avoid antibiotic soap as much as possible, and make sure your child washes with water and soap made of natural ingredients.

Don’t be afraid to share food or drinking water with your child—as long as you’re not sick, of course.

Finally, avoid giving your child antibiotics for every health issue, and work with their doctor to treat these cases of illness with as little medication as possible.

This article was first published on babyarabia.com