By printing and/or reading this article, you agree that you accept all terms and conditions of use, as specified online.
The term SARS burst on the international scene in early 2003. In the beginning, it was a mysterious illness that hit people who had traveled to Hong Kong. It was soon learned however that SARS had first hit much earlier in other parts of China. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the first cases were in southern China in November of 2002. According to WHO, SARS was carried out of southern China by an infected medical doctor who visited Hong Kong in late February. He infected at least 16 other persons staying on or visiting the same floor of his hotel. From this single event, SARS spread internationally, according to WHO, to Toronto, Viet Nam, and Singapore. By the time SARS was brought under control thousands had been infected and hospitalized and hundreds had died. CDC says cases of SARS in the United States have been extremely limited, and involved people who had travelled to other parts of the world where SARS was a problem.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say SARS usually begins with a fever greater than 100.4 degrees. Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms. After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and have trouble breathing. Most patients develop pneumonia. (Read about "Pneumonia")
The primary way that SARS appears to spread is by close person-to-person contact. Most cases of SARS have involved people who cared for or lived with someone with SARS, or had direct contact with infectious material from a person with SARS. Potential ways in which SARS can be spread, according to CDC include touching the skin of other people or objects that are contaminated with infectious droplets and then touching your eye(s), nose, or mouth. This can happen when someone who is sick with SARS coughs or sneezes droplets onto themselves, other people or nearby surfaces. CDC says it also is possible that SARS can be spread more broadly through the air or by other ways that are currently not known.
It looks like a coronavirus may be the cause of SARS. Coronaviruses can also result in the common cold. (Read about "The Common Cold") Tests are being developed to help diagnose SARS in its early stages so action can be taken quickly. During the height of the outbreak, many people who did not have SARS were isolated as a precaution when they exhibited some of the symptoms.
CDC recommends that patients with SARS receive the same treatment that would be used with any serious community-acquired atypical pneumonia. Tests are also being conducted on various antiviral drugs to see if an effective treatment can be found.
If you are travelling to an area where SARS is a concern, CDC suggests the following:
Finally, if you are concerned about SARS, or any infectious respiratory disease, CDC says there are some common-sense precautions that you can take. The most important is frequent hand washing with soap and water or use of an alcohol-based hand rub. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands and encourage people around you to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you think you might have SARS, it is important that you contact your health care provider. Do it over the phone first. That will allow the facility where you are sent to take precautions to minimize the threat of spread before you arrive.
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
© Concept Communications Media Group LLC