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SARS Prompts Broader Powers for WHO

New Regulations to Protect Against Infectious Disease Threats

SARS Still Spreading

And as the meeting drew to a close today, word came from the Russian news agency Interfax that Russian health officials had confirmed their first case of SARS in the Amur region of southwest Russia, which shares a border with China.

Over the weekend, the WHO added Toronto, Canada to the list of areas with where SARS is currently being transmitted locally after new clusters of SARS cases were linked to four Toronto hospitals. On May 14, Toronto was removed from the WHO list of areas with local SARS transmission after no new cases were reported over a 20-day period, which suggested that the chain of transmission was under control.

Although the WHO currently does not recommend any travel restrictions to Toronto, persons leaving the area are alerted to watch for possible symptoms of SARS.

Animal Link to SARS Explored

Research teams in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China have also reported that wild animals taken from a local market in southern China tested positive for several coronaviruses that are genetically very similar to the previously unknown coronavirus that causes SARS.

One of the animals also tested positive for antibodies to the SARS virus. These exotic animals are considered delicacies in the region and are sold for human consumption.

The WHO says this study is the first evidence that the SARS virus may exist outside humans, but it does not prove that the virus was transmitted from animals to humans. Officials say much more study is needed to determine if animals may play a role in SARS transmission.

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