|WHAT IS SARSORIGINSYMPTOMS & EFFECTSSPREADINGDIAGNOSIS & TREATMENTPREVENTION|
Sars the mysterious epidemic spread fear, infected over 8000 people and claimed the lives of more than 10% of its victims around the world in about four to five months it was active. The disease is identified as a global health threat by the World Health Organisation. Scientists and Public Health authorities fear a possible recurrence of the disease from people or animals who harbour the virus especially with the onset of cold and flu season.
What is Sars ?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is an infectious disease of the respiratory system characterized by a typical inflammation of the lungs. It is a serious form of pneumonia, resulting in acute respiratory distress and sometimes death. This viral respiratory illness is caused by a new member of the coronavirus family, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV).
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that are responsible for more than one third of the common cold cases and cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory illness in humans. They are associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal, liver and neurological disease in animals. Corona viruses so called because of their spiky crown of protein globules have a halo or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under a microscope. The virus labeled as SARS-CoV, is believed to be a new strain of the common coronavirus, which have mutated into a deadlier form that triggers the killer pneumonia. Once inside a human host, the pathogen can be virulent. It causes high fever and creates an 'inflammatory storm' as the body's immune system attempts to fight it off, causing lung tissue to swell and in the final, brutal stages, suffocating the host. The severity of the illness is highly variable, ranging from mild illness to death.
SARS was first reported in China, Asia on February 26, 2003. The epidemic that swept out of Southern China is believed to have originated from exotic live animals such as Civet cats which seems to have spread it to humans. Scientists believe that the conditions in animal markets in China, such as the sprawling Xinyuan Market in Guangzhou city in Southern China where rows of exotic animals in cages are displayed for sale and killed are such that, it allow germs to multiply, mutate and migrate from one species to another. It may have been from such markets that the virus first spread. SARS-like viruses were discovered in palm civets at another southern Chinese market in May. Follow-up studies have found additional clues that suggest a link between SARS and civets.
Sars was first diagnosed in a 48-year-old businessman who had traveled from the Guangdong province of China, through Hong Kong, to Hanoi, Vietnam and identified as a new disease by World Health Organization (WHO) physician Dr. Carlo Urbani who himself later succumbed to the disease in late March. Over the next few months of its discovery, it had infected thousands of people and the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America. According to the WHO, a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with SARS; of these, 774 died. SARS cases spread world wide through travelers returning from other parts of the world with SARS. The WHO has hence identified SARS as a global health threat.
Symptoms and Effects
SARS in its early stage has the same symptoms as in an early case of influenza. The disease starts with a fever that can be as mild as 100.4 degrees. Sufferers may have body, head or muscle aches accompanied with a general feeling of discomfort, some may even get diarrhea. After three to seven days, the person may develop a dry, non-productive cough that might be accompanied by or progress to the point of difficulty in breathing, where insufficient oxygen is getting to the blood. At this stage, most patients develop pneumonia.
The incubation period is usually between two and ten days, although there have been documented cases where the onset of illness was considerably faster or slower. Levels of the virus is highest in patients 10 days into the illness. The severity of illness might be highly variable, ranging from mild illness to death. Of those infected, the effects are more harmful in the elderly or those with pre-existing medical conditions.
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