Source Pravda.Ru

Experts call poor lab security as reasons for SARS outbreak in China

The latest SARS outbreak in China came from a government research lab that had been experimenting on live SARS viruses The latest SARS outbreak in China was due to poor laboratory security, the outbreak was a result of a human factor, not a natural one. Experts had been warning that conditions in China’s laboratories were poor.

Experts have been saying that studying live coronavirus samples in poor laboratory practice conditions constitutes a serious security threat to the country, its neighbours and the world. They say laboratories in China should improve their practices.

It is worrying that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot account for the whereabouts of live SARS virus samples within and outside the USA. The chances these viruses could end up in the hands of terrorists or just simply, incompetents, is troubling many security authorities around the world.

As more and more labs and agencies swap samples of viruses and bacteria, keeping track of all the movements of some of the most dangerous bugs in the world is becoming virtually impossible, reports medicalnewstoday.com

According to nytimes.com the World Health Organization on Tuesday declared an end to a recent outbreak of SARS cases in China that apparently originated with a safety breach in the government's leading virology laboratory. But officials also cautioned that they still could not explain what caused the infections.

Initial fears that SARS might spread into the general population proved unfounded. The disease was contracted by only nine people, the two graduate students and seven people who had come into close contact with them. Six recovered, but the mother of one of the students died last month. Two people remain hospitalized, one in critical condition.

Hundreds of others who had close contact with the nine patients have since been released from quarantine, though state media have reported that 28 employees of the institute remain under observation.

The lingering mystery is what caused the outbreak. The World Health Organization and the Chinese Ministry of Health have assigned teams to investigate the laboratory. International health officials have long worried that lab accidents could inadvertently spread the disease, as happened in Taiwan and Singapore.

The virology institute is China's main government testing center for SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, but the World Health Organization reported that the two lab researchers were not thought to have come into contact with the live virus. The situation is further muddled because the researchers were apparently not infected at the same time.

Sars was first reported in the southern province of Guangdong in late 2002. That outbreak killed 774 people worldwide and infected more than 8,000 others before abating in July 2003, informs BBC.

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