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Officials: New ideas on how SARS spreads

May not come through water, air, but by other means

May not come through water, air, but by other means

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Researchers in Canada and the United States say they have sequenced the genome of the virus thought to cause SARS. CNN's Glen Van Zupthen reports. (April 15)
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Chinese President Hu Jintao toured hospitals in the Guangdong province, where SARS is thought to have originated. CCTV reports. (April 15)
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SARS heightens concern among many Americans traveling to Asia.
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HONG KONG (CNN) -- Health officials studying how Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is spread said Thursday they believe the virus that causes it is not transmitted in water or in the air, but could be spread by contact with fecal matter from an infected individual.

Thursday, Hong Kong's health ministry reported four more people have died from the disease, bringing the total deaths there to 65. The ministry's latest SARS case count stands at 1,297, with 29 newly diagnosed patients.

Over one-quarter of the first several hundred Hong Kong cases appeared in the Amoy Gardens housing complex, causing health officials to remove residents until more was known about the disease.

Hong Kong Health Secretary Dr. Yeoh Eng-kiong said a SARS patient had visited the most affected block of that complex -- Block E -- on two separate occasions in March, using a toilet there.

"He might have infected other residents in Block E," Yeoh said.

The health secretary said the housing complex had been cleaned and disinfected "very thoroughly" and officials did not foresee any problems "for residents returning to their homes."

Health officials arrived at their conclusions through laboratory tests and by studying outbreak patterns, Yeoh said.

Also Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it will narrow its case definition to conform with the World Health Organization's standards.

The United States was the only country reporting suspected SARS cases under investigation rather than probable cases, WHO's Web site said.

In Hong Kong, airport passengers wearing face masks submitted to body temperature checks, part of a new proactive approach to SARS announced by the governor Wednesday.

Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa said those checks will be extended to incoming passengers next week.

Wednesday, the World Health Organization said SARS has claimed 159 lives with 3,293 reported cases in 24 countries and territories.

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