Docs fear mil­lions will die as deadly virus jumps from bats to hu­mans

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By JON LIVESEY

BOFFINS in a British hospi­tal have dis­cov­ered a deadly virus that could DEV­AS­TATE the world.

The ter­ri­fy­ing bug is so new it hasn’t even been named – but ex­perts fear it could wipe out MIL­LIONS.

Doc­tors first thought that a 49-year-old man ad­mit­ted to Lon­don’s St Thomas Hospi­tal last month was suf­fer­ing from SARS – the virus that threat­ened to turn into a plague in 2003.

But tests proved it was a brand new strain that un­til now has been un­able to in­fect hu­mans.

The pa­tient – from Qatar in the Mid­dle East – was in­fected with a virus nor­mally only found in BATS. It had only been seen once be­fore in hu­mans – when it claimed its first life.

Now doc­tors fear the ill­ness can be spread hu­man to hu­man – mak­ing it as con­ta­gious as the flu and TEN TIMES more deadly.

Ex­perts can­not say for cer­tain whether this deadly new virus will be as spread as feared.

But what they do know is that, like all the big­gest killers of the last 500 years, the ill­ness has made the leap from an­i­mals to hu­mans.

And that has sparked con­cerns we are head­ing for a deadly plague that could be as dev­ast­ing as the BLACK DEATH in the mid­dle ages that wiped out a third of the pop­u­la­tion.

There is one crumb of com­fort – lead­ing vi­rol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor John Ox­ford, from Queen Mary’s Hospi­tal, Lon­don, says we now have the tech­nol­ogy to fight plagues.

He said: “We now have sci­en­tific pro­cesses en­abling us to quickly iden­tify the genome of the virus be­hind a new ill­ness, so that we know what we are deal­ing with. Af­ter that we can de­velop and stock­pile vac­cines.”

THE BLACK DEATH: Spread by fleas on black rats, it re­duced the world pop­u­la­tion by 100m peo­ple. MALARIA: Comes from mos­quito bites and kills around 1.5m peo­ple ev­ery year. IN A FLAP: The

deadly virus spread by bats has caused panic

SCARE: St Thomas’


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