SARS Spread Leads to Fear, Questions

But he suspects this new virus is dangerously different — that it started out in China in an animal then jumped to humans, making it far more deadly.

"I am frankly quite concerned," says McIntosh. "I share the CDC's sense that this is a potentially very important event."

McIntosh also believes all of the infection control and prevention actions being taken to stem the virus' spread may not be effective. "It's going to be very difficult to completely stop the spread of this virus. My bet is it's going to spread."

Diagnosis and Shot of Prevention

Experts are reportedly working on developing a test that can diagnose SARS infection, a step that others say first involves sequencing the virus' DNA.

"I think that a widely usable diagnostic [test] is still a ways off," says Dr. Elaine Tuomanen, chair of infectious diseases at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

Tuomanen says once the exact sequence of the virus is known and researchers discover what parts of the virus are making people sick, a vaccine could conceivably be developed. In fact, scientists at St. Jude's were recently able to manufacture a vaccine against a lethal strain of influenza that caused the World Health Organization to issue an alert in February of this year.

The vaccine for the influenza strain H5N1 was developed in four weeks, and Tuomanen says that the same technology could be utilized to protect people against SARS.

"This one particular technology is extremely rapid and allows you to tailor make a vaccine," she adds. "This is a very big deal because it makes everyone feel safer and it can be done."

ABCNEWS' Susan Wagner and Melinda T. Willis contributed to this report.

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