Skip to main content
CNN EditionWorld
The Web     
Powered by
powered by Yahoo!

Toilet seat fears in SARS outbreak

Story Tools

more video VIDEO
CNN's Jaime Florcruz on WHO visit to Beijing hospitals
premium content

Hong Kong students are facing cancelled exams and possible quarantines.
premium content
• Frequently Asked Questions: SARS 
• Country breakdown: Suspect and probable cases of SARS 
• Special report: SARS: Mystery illness on the move 
• Interactive: What causes SARS 
How do you think SARS is transmitted?

Poor hygiene

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Health officials studying how Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus is spread say they believe the disease is not transmitted in water or in the air, but could be spread by contact with a contaminated toilet seat.

But the World Health Organization believes the "major" way that SARS is spread is person-to-person contact -- for example, by speaking or coughing, a spokesman said.

On 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 studying outbreak patterns, Yeoh said.

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

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

On Wednesday, the WHO said SARS had claimed 159 lives with 3,293 reported cases in 24 countries and territories.

The WHO also says the virus which cause SARS comes from the same group that causes the common cold but it has never before been seen in humans.

Confirming this knowledge is regarded as a key step in the hunt for a cure and possible vaccine against the disease. (Hopes rise)

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Iran poll to go to run-off
Top Stories
CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards

International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.