SARS: How a Global Epidemic Was Stopped

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SARS is very rare, and the symptoms overlap with those of flu and pneumonia. A physician will not suspect it unless the person has been in an area where there is an outbreak. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction RT-PCR testing can detect the virus in blood, stool, and nasal secretions.

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If a person has antibodies, they are also likely to have the infection. Doctors may also use a viral culture. This involves putting a small same of body tissue or fluid into a container with some cells in which the virus can grow. If the virus grows, the cells will change. These tests may not be reliable if used in the early stages of infection.

The SARS Scare

Most of the patients who developed SARS in to had spent time with people who developed the disease, or they had been in places where the disease was present. Pneumonia is a common complication, so a person who develops unexplained pneumonia and has a spent time in a place where there is an outbreak should be suspected of having SARS.

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It is also a medical emergency, and urgent medical care is needed. The WHO recommends isolating patients and using barrier techniques to prevent the spread of the virus, including filter masks and goggles.

SARS 'stopped dead in its tracks'

No drug, including antibiotics , appears to be effective against SARS. Supportive care is recommended, including the use of medications to relieve symptoms such as fever and a cough. As with other infectious diseases, some simple steps can be taken to help prevent the SARS virus from spreading. Because SARS is contagious once its symptoms have developed, anyone with the disease should limit their interactions with other people until 10 days after their symptoms have improved. SARS is at its most contagious during the second week of illness.

In , researchers announced that they had found a way to disable a part of the virus involved in SARS that allows it to hide from the immune system. This could lead to the development of a vaccine against the disease. Since , there have been no recorded cases of SARS anywhere in the world. Health organizations continue to work on a response, in case SARS reappears in the future. Article last updated by Yvette Brazier on Mon 8 May All references are available in the References tab.

Anthony, S. A strategy to estimate unknown viral diversity in mammals. Clinical guidance on the identification and evaluation of possible SARS-CoV disease among persons presenting with community-acquired illness Version 2.

Frequently asked questions about SARS. Ratia, K. PLOS One. Revised U. Severe acute respiratory syndrome. To, K. From SARS coronavirus to novel animal and human coronaviruses. Journal of Thoracic Disease 5 2, SS MediLexicon, Intl. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media.

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SARS is extremely contagious, and many wore face masks during the last outbreak in SARS was the first coronavirus to present severe symptoms in humans. Tests can help confirm a diagnosis of SARS by detecting the virus and antibodies. Effective personal hygiene can help to stop the spread of SARS. Related coverage. Additional information. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled. Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.

Latest news Scientists evaluate cancer risk of US drinking water. Health authorities around the world are also worried that SARS could re-emerge in winter months, when respiratory diseases are rife. The WHO has pointed to serious deficiencies in surveillance and control systems in a number of locations. Many countries do not have a centralized information clearing house like the U. China at first tried to downplay its outbreak, but made a stunning turnaround, firing its health minister and the major of Beijing.

Science Magazine: Progress on SARS

The global spread of SARS has been blamed partly on an information blackout in the early days of the epidemic. While travel advisories have been lifted for several Chinese provinces, it is unclear when Beijing might be cleared as it still has many SARS cases, senior WHO officials have said. The WHO says it is clear that certain steps have proven effective in tracing, identifying, and isolating those who either have the disease or have come into contact with someone who does.

Countries that have taken the most thorough and rigorous steps, such as Singapore and Vietnam, have managed the disease more quickly than others, the WHO says. While many disease experts disagree over whether it is reasonable to think SARS can be eradicated, they all say any kind of cure or vaccine preventing it is years away.

Do you think we have seen the last major SARS outbreak? House votes to keep U. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.


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