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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 March, 2003, 08:19 GMT
Mystery bug 'strikes again'
The virus has infected hospital workers
A third UK patient is suspected of having contracted the severe pneumonia-like condition that has killed people around the world.

The Public Health Laboratory Service has confirmed that a man is being treated in isolation at a London hospital with a suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The patient had returned to the UK from Hong Kong - where the bug has struck down hundreds of people - on March 17.

A PHLS spokesman said: "He had no symptoms while on his flight to the UK but is now being treated at a hospital in London in isolation as a precautionary measure.

"It brings the total number of probable cases in the UK to three."

The spokesman said the patient in the latest case was isolated because of fears that he could pass on the illness to medical staff.

Other cases

Two other men suspected of contracting SARS are receiving hospital treatment, one in London and the other in Birmingham.

In Ireland, two men who stayed in the same hotel in Hong King are being treated in hospital after showing symptoms of SARS and one has been confirmed as having the illness.

A Manchester man Nigel Glassey, who was thought have been the first UK national to have contracted the illness, has now been diagnosed with flu.

The PHLS spokesman said: "Travellers returning to the UK from East or South East Asia who within 10 days of returning, develop sudden onset of high fever and one other symptom of pneumonia such as cough or shortness of breath, should seek medical advice," said the spokesman.

"In line with advice issued by the WHO, other travellers from China, Hong Kong and South East Asia who develop symptoms of this kind should also contact local health services.

"Travellers to South East Asia need to be aware of these outbreaks and take them into account in their travel plans."

Close contact

The illness, thought to be caused by a virus from the same family as those that cause mumps and measles, is believed to have originated in South East Asia, and has been linked to an earlier outbreak of disease in the Guangdong province of China.

Doctors in Hong Kong say they have had some success treating patients with an anti-viral drug.

The World Health Organization, which issued a worldwide alert over the infection earlier this month, has now recorded more than 300 suspected cases of the illness, mainly in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore.

However, dozens of other cases have been reported from many different countries worldwide.

Symptoms are flu-like in the first instance, rapidly followed by respiratory problems, often serious.

Health officials say evidence so far suggests the infection is passed on through close contacts such as family members and healthcare workers.




SEE ALSO:
Killer bug traced to HK hotel
20 Mar 03 |  Health
Second UK mystery bug case
19 Mar 03 |  Health


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