Severe acute respiratory system or otherwise known as SARS is a disease of the respiratory system. The experts claim that the main cause of this syndrome is the SARS coronavirus. It is not a known fact to people living in the United States that the syndrome almost became a pandemic in Hong Kong during the time of November of 2002 and July 2003. During that time, there were 8,422 cases and 916 resulted in death of the patient, which is almost 11% fatality. The situation has changed a lot since then. According to the data, the last case of SARS infection was recorder in the June of 2003. However, people should not think that not even one person will get infected from SARS at some point in the future because the syndrome was not eradicated. That means that it may still be present in its natural host reservoirs.
Diagnosis of SARS
Before making a diagnosis, the doctors will ask the patient about having any of the symptoms and signs of SARS. This is why people need to know that the symptoms of SARS are pretty much the same of those seen in flu. Such symptoms are fever, myalgia, lethargy, gastrointestinal symptoms, cough, sore throat or some other signs which are considered not to be specific. Shortness of breath is a symptom commonly seen in patients with SARS but that symptom is known to occur later. However, a fever higher than 38 degrees Celsius is the only sign of SARS which is seen in every patient suffering from it. Apart from asking about the symptoms, the doctor will also ask some other questions and order an X-ray. It is not uncommon for the patient to be showing an increased opacity in both lungs, which points to pneumonia. There are some things that make a person more suspectable of suffering from SARS and these things are a history of the syndrome, either sexual or casual contact with a person who is diagnosed with SARS or if a person has traveled to which has been identified to have had recent local transmission of SARS. If the X-ray or some of the other means of diagnosis make a person susceptible of suffering from the syndrome, certain laboratory tests will be performed in order for the doctor to be able to make a proper diagnosis. Some of the tests which are mainly used and are approved by the government are ELISA, PCR or immunoflourescence. The chest X-ray is used in almost every case but the doctor do not rely on it 100% because the initial X-ray may not be clear. It is not an uncommon case that a person suspectable of suffering from SARS has low counts of white blood cells and platelet. There are three diagnostic test kits which have been produced and all of them are being tested at the moment in order to be seen whether they are good enough to be used. However, it should be known that all of these tests have certain drawbacks.
Prevention of SARS
When prevention of SARS is considered, the patients should know that the WHO has set up a certain network for doctors and researchers who are dealing with SARS. This network is made of a secure web site which exists for the chest X-rays to be studied. Apart from the web site, a teleconference exists as well. One way of prevention of SARS is quarantine. This method was used in Hong Kong where 1200 people were quarantined, Singapore, where 977 people were put into quarantine and Taiwan. 1147 people were quarantined in Taiwan. Apart from Asia, this method was also used in Canada and several thousand people were quarantined in order for the spreading of SARS to be prevented. It is not uncommon for the children not to go to school during a period of time in which there is a suspicion of an epidemic. For instance, children in Singapore did not go to school for a period of ten days.
Treatment of SARS
First of all, SARS is a viral disease which means that the syndrome cannot be treated with the use of antibiotics. Up to this day, the most commonly used methods are antipyretics, supplemental oxygen and in certain cases when is needed ventilator support. A person who is suspected of being infected with SARS will be isolated. It is best that the patient is isolated in a negative pressure room. It was thought for a long time that SARS can be treated with the use of steroids and a certain antiviral drug called ribavirin. However, there was no strong proof that this was true. A certain vaccine was produced in China in 2004. Out of 36 people who were tested, 24 of them developed antibodies against the virus. At this moment, corticosteroids and Ribavirin are the most commonly used drugs in treatment of SARS.