Two new studies present evidence that the virus causing severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) may spread through the air, not just through direct contact with contaminated water droplets as previous research had shown.
SARS coronavirus was detected in the air in a patient’s room during the 2003 outbreak in Toronto, according to a new study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Another study, from Hong Kong, shows patients in hospital bays near a SARS patient had a much higher infection rate than patients in distant bays, consistent with the possibility of airborne SARS transmission, according to an article in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Both articles are published in the journals’ May 1 issues, and are now available online.
The Toronto research was conducted by Timothy F. Booth, PhD and colleagues during the SARS outbreak there in March 2003. Their results mark the first experimental confirmation of the presence of the SARS virus in the air of an infected patient’s hospital room. The authors cautioned that their results do not document any cases of airborne transmission of the SARS virus from one person to another, only the dissemination of the virus from an infected patient to the air, via breathing or coughing.
Steve Baragona | EurekAlert!
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