SARS found in tears: opportunity for early diagnosis or threat?

Corresponding to the current issue of the British Journal of Ophthalmology, SARS virus was detected in teardrops taken from patients in Singapore last year, thus raising the prospect the disease may be easier to diagnose.

On the other hand, it was also noted, that it highlights one of the ways that severe acute respiratory syndrome spreads, doctors said. quotes, that the seven doctors who compiled the study took tear swabs from 36 Singapore patients suspected of having SARS in 2003. Signs of the virus that causes the illness were found in three of the eight people who eventually tested positive.

All three tear samples were taken in the early stages of illness, suggesting tear sampling could offer early confirmation of SARS' presence, said Dr. Loon Seng Chee of the Eye Institute at the National University of Singapore.

"We are proposing that this is a simple method, it is easily repeated and involves less discomfort for the patient" than taking blood samples, Loon said.

But reports, that it also has worrying implications for eye doctors.

"Many healthcare workers are in close proximity to the eyes of patients and this may be a source of spread among healthcare workers and inoculating patients."

That means ophthalmologists and other workers should consider beefing up their protective gear when they are treating patients suspected to have the virus.

Find more about SARS here:

&to=' target=_blank>SARS More Deadly Than Expected

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Author`s name: Editorial Team