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SARS Cases Climb to More than 1,300

Chinese Cases Now Included in Mysterious Pneumonia Tally

Cause of SARS Still Unknown

Officials say research is ongoing to determine a cause of SARS, and attention is increasingly focusing on the coronavirus family, a group of viruses most commonly associated with the common cold. But other viruses from the paramyxovirus and other groups are also being considered as possible suspects.

Many experts believe SARS may be caused by co-infection with two viruses that work together to cause severe illness. They say evidence suggest that the virus or viruses responsible for SARS are new and not previously known to infect humans or cause serious disease.

A group of 80 healthcare workers who have cared for SARS patients also participated in an electronic "grand rounds" on symptoms and treatment of SARS today.

The group agreed that no particular therapy has proven most effective in treating severe acute respiratory syndrome. But with general supportive therapy and medical care, the clinicians say the majority of patients (about 80%-90%) show some signs of improvement at about day six or seven of the illness.

However, about 10% of SARS patients eventually decline and require mechanical assistance to breathe. These patients are often over 40 years old and have other illnesses that makes treating SARS more difficult and increases the risk of complications and death.

SOURCE: News release, World Health Organization. News release, CDC.

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