A new email virus that invites users to see a picture of tennis star Anna Kournikova is wreaking havoc upon computer systems in the US.

Experts monitoring the internet-based worm have said that it is spreading as fast as the dreaded Love Bug virus. However it's not as dangerous to the average PC user.

“It's the old, tired [Visual Basic Script] concept but one that puts new legs and a pretty face on it making people want to open it up,” said Steve Gottwals, director of product marketing at data security firm F-Secure.

The worm comes in an email with the subject: “Here you have, ;o)” and an attachment called Anna Kournikova.jpg.vbs.

Once the receiver opens the attachment, the computer worm sends itself to every address it finds on the user’s Microsoft Outlook address book, pretending to be from a familiar source. But unlike the Love Bug it allegedly does not alter files.

Because the virus is written in Visual Basic Script (VBScript), it will only be able to propagate itself on computers running Microsoft Outlook that have not installed the patch Microsoft developed following the outbreak of the Love Bug.

Last week PC Advisor described how to turn VBScript off on your PC, the easiest route to removing this problem, preventing viruses written in VBScript from propagating. You can find the details here.

“It doesn't really try to get after data and eat it, it just sends itself on and has the ability to take down email servers because it's so widespread,” said Gottwals. In this sense it's more like a denial of service attack than a bad virus.

Gottwals said that F-Secure’s Finland-based research team had been monitoring the spread of the virus and remarked it was infecting computers at the same rate the Love Bug did.