New Type of Viral Strains Discovered in Patients with SARS
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has afflicted thousands of people during the recent global outbreaks, generating a phenomenon of mass hysteria all over the world. Although the initial speculations regarding the seriousness and the pronounced contagious character of the syndrome were eventually infirmed by elaborate research findings, SARS is still considered to be a life-threatening form of pneumonia in present. During the 2003 epidemic, SARS has infected hundreds of people in Asia, the epicenter of the outbreak. Although China and Singapore were affected the most, SARS accounted for around 50 hospitalizations in the United States as well. In fact, the 2003 SARS epidemic has penetrated in 14 countries all around the world, requiring long periods of quarantine and generating a global state of medical alert.
Through the combined efforts of epidemiologists and virologists from all over the world, medical science has quickly revealed the primary infectious agent responsible for causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Laboratory research conducted by Chinese, German and Canadian medical scientists has traced clear evidence of viral strains belonging to the paramyxovirus family in all patients diagnosed with SARS. Further laboratory analysis has established the fact that the culprit virus is actually a paramyxovirus subtype known as human metapneumovirus. This particular virus is a rare infectious agent also responsible for causing several other forms of atypical pneumonia similar to SARS.
Australian scientists suspect that the infectious viral agent discovered in people with SARS is actually a mutated animal metapneumovirus that has crossed the species barrier, becoming capable of infecting humans as well. Although there is a scarce amount of data regarding this particular type of metapneumovirus, medical scientists are optimistic, claiming that there are various treatments that have proved to be effective in overcoming infections with this type of viral organism. Scientists are currently focusing towards developing new forms of treatment against SARS, by enhancing the efficiency of already-existent antiviral medications.
Although human metapneumovirus was long thought to be the only viral agent responsible for causing SARS, recent medical research has proved otherwise. By conducting elaborate research and careful analyses of SARS viral strains under the electron microscope, virologists have revealed a very interesting fact: apart from the previously discovered paramyxovirus, scientists have also found strains of viral organisms belonging to the coronavirus family. This type of virus is very common, being the primary cause of colds and flu. The discovery of this additional viral strain has determined medical scientists to believe that SARS may be less serious than it was previously thought.
It is believed that the recently discovered coronavirus is actually an adjutant for the proliferation of human metapneumovirus. In addition, it is suspected that the two types of viruses depend on each other in causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, neither of these viral organisms being capable of generating the syndrome on itself. Although the theories regarding the interdependence between human metapneumovirus and coronavirus in triggering SARS may seem strange, this phenomenon can also be seen in the occurrence and progression of various other atypical infectious diseases, such as delta hepatitis (which involves infection with both hepatitis B and D viruses).
If virologists come up with conclusive evidence for the interdependence of human metapneumovirus and coronavirus in causing SARS, this could considerably simplify the process of treatment. Thus, instead of focusing towards killing the atypical metapneumovirus (which is more resistant to existent forms of treatment), doctors could overcome the infection with coronavirus, rendering the previously mentioned viral organism unable to cause SARS on itself. If these theories are confirmed, SARS may be a lot easier to treat in near future, requiring only a short course of common flu medications. Furthermore, SARS may soon be no more serious than common seasonal influenza.
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