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: Conditions to be aware of in newborns

If your child’s abdomen feels swollen and hard, you should seek medical advice. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 January 2020

Baby Talk: Conditions to be aware of in newborns

  • Here are three physical conditions that are especially common in the weeks following birth. If you notice any of the following in your baby, contact your doctor or health center straight away

Abdominal Distension

Most babies’ tummies are normally rounded, especially after a large feed. Between feeds, however, they should feel quite soft and not stick out. If your child’s abdomen feels swollen and hard, or if they have not had a bowel movement for more than one or two days, you should seek medical advice. Most likely the problem is due to wind or constipation, but don’t take chances and seek the advice.

Birth Injuries

Labor is can be a strenuous time for both mum and baby, and it is possible for babies to be injured during birth, especially when babies are very large. While newborns recover quickly from some of these injuries, others may last for some time. Quite often the injury is a collar bone, which will heal quickly if the arm on that side is kept relatively still.  Don’t worry if a small lump forms over the site of the fracture. This is just part of the body’s healing process and is a sign that things are normal.

Labor is can be a strenuous time for both mum and baby, and it is possible for babies to be injured during birth, especially when babies are very large. (Shutterstock)

 Muscle weakness in a newborn baby is a common birth injury, caused during labor. However, muscles, usually weakened on one side of the face or one shoulder or arm, generally return to normal after a few weeks.  During this time it might be wise to ask advice on how to hold your baby to promote healing or at least prevent aggravation.

Blue Baby Syndrome

Babies sometimes have mildly blue hands and feet, but this may not be a cause for concern. Their hands and feet might turn slightly blue due to the cold, but they should return to normal as soon as they are warm. Occasionally, the face, tongue, and lips may turn a little blue when the newborn is crying hard, but once he becomes calm, his color in these parts of the body should quickly return to normal. However, persistently blue skin coloring, especially with breathing difficulties and feeding difficulties, is a sign that the heart or lungs are not operating properly, and the baby is not getting enough oxygen in the blood. Immediate medical attention is essential.