WHO evaluating new concerns SARS may be caused by animal contact

WHO evaluating new concerns SARS may be caused by animal contact

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With new concerns over the possibility that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) may be caused by contact with animals, the United Nations health agency today said it is working closely with other partner institutions to determine the feasibility of such a link.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said it is collaborating with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), as well as the World Organisation for Animal Health, to determine if there is evidence to suggest that any disease related to SARS has occurred in animals.

Following initial reviews of reports on the transmission of SARS, the three organizations said so far, there is no epidemiological information to suggest that contact with goods, products or animals shipped from areas affected by the disease has been the source of infection in humans.

Accordingly, WHO said it cannot conclude that any products or animals arriving from regions currently affected by SARS pose a risk to public health. The agency will, however, continue to closely monitor the evolution of the respiratory disease in collaboration with national health departments and partner agencies.

Meanwhile, the agency also issued updated guidelines on the management of suspect and probable cases of SARS. It also includes suggestions on handling people who may at risk of developing the disease because of exposure to an infected person.