New Deadly Sars-Like Illness
Kills 7 In Cambodia

China says SARS is wreaking havoc not only among its people but also its economy, and in the faraway jungles of Cambodia a new mystery illness has appeared - baffling doctors just like Sars once did.
"The current Sars situation is still grim, and the economic impact is more pronounced each day," said a report by Xinhua, China's state news agency.
At a meeting led by Premier Wen Jiabao, the Cabinet issued orders to local authorities aimed at protecting farm harvests and encouraging foreign investment and exports.
Sars first surfaced as a mystery illness in South China last November, when it was called "atypical pneumonia." Its origins remain unknown, though some suspect it was originally a farm animal virus that mutated to also infect humans.
Now, in Cambodia, a new unidentified type of pneumonia has killed seven people in two impoverished remote villages near the border with Vietnam.
It has Sars-like symptoms including fever, coughing and breathing problems. But unlike in most Sars cases, patients suffer diarrhoea and maintain normal white blood cell counts.
"There is no evidence that this outbreak is in any way linked to the Sars," said a report by the World Health Organisation and Cambodian officials, who say the outbreak started in March.
Doctors administered antibiotics and other drugs to supplement the villagers' use of animal sacrifices and tribal prayers to bring the outbreak under control.
World-wide, the death toll from Sars toll rose today to at least 498, when Taiwan announced its latest of 14 deaths. The vast majority of the global deaths have been in China's mainland and Hong Kong, where thousands have been infected.
Beyond the statistics, the human tragedy wrought by Sars was highlighted in the death announced by Taiwan: A young nurse who had worked at a hospital coping with a Sars outbreak died of the disease - just weeks before she was to deliver her first baby.
In the Taiwanese capital, Taipei, hospitals have been ordered to set up outside centres to screen individuals for Sars symptoms before allowing them into emergency rooms.
The disease has taken the lives of many health professionals. Doctors and nurses working in Sars wards across Asia are being hailed as heroes who put their own lives at risk to save others.
In China, they are being described by the state's propaganda machine as "angels in white."
One doctor who died after contracting the virus on the job has been declared a revolutionary martyr, while others are being awarded medals.
"There have been a lot of heroic deeds that can move us to tears," said Zhou Liangluo, a district administrator in Beijing, where Sars has hit hardest and where the epidemic is only now showing signs of levelling off.
So far, Sars has mostly been an urban disease. But authorities fear it might spread into the countryside, where the majority of China's 1.3 billion people live amid a shortage of doctors and hospitals.
Who Investigators were due today to go to Hebei, a province bordering Beijing and where there been a marked surge in cases.
In the US, thousands of customs and immigration inspectors were being trained to spot Sars symptoms and were ordered to detain those who exhibit them as part of attempts to prevent an outbreak.
Officials said travellers would be detained if they had possible signs of Sars, including high fever, dry cough, breathing trouble, or if they said they are experiencing these symptoms. A public health official would be summoned to give a medical evaluation.



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