Community Health in the Event of a Sars Outbreak

Topics: Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Epidemiology, Respiratory disease Pages: 5 (2020 words) Published: April 2, 2012
Community Health in the Event of a SARS Outbreak
The SARS Outbreak of 2003
SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, originally reported in Asia in February 2003 and spread to over two dozen countries before being contained (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2005). Once infected, individuals with SARS initially develop a high fever and other flu-like symptoms including headache, body aches and “overall feeling of discomfort” before, in most cases, progressing to pneumonia (CDC, 2005). The disease was first diagnosed in a middle-aged man who had flown from China to Hong Kong. A few days after the announcement of the disease, rumors and panic began to spread, causing people to buy out food and supplies, as the Chinese government insisted the disease was under control and insisted on calm ("Timeline," 2003). As the disease killed the man and the physician diagnosing the disease, it continued to spread through multiple countries, infecting thousands of people and killing hundreds (“SARS,” 2011). By the end of the month, Hong Kong and Vietnam were reporting cases of severe and “atypical” pneumonia ("Timeline," 2003). In March 2003, the WHO issued a global health alert and an emergency travel advisory, and United States officials encouraged all citizens to suspend non-essential travel to the affected countries and Singapore, Ontario and Hong Kong initiated home quarantine ("Timeline," 2003). Schools in Southeast Asia closed and there were significant economic effects as well as air travel stalled and business worldwide was affected. In April, countries threatened to quarantine entire planeloads of people if anyone on board showed symptoms, and others threatened jail time for those who obstruct the attempts to control the disease ("Timeline," 2003). On April 3, 2003, SARS became a communicable disease for which a healthy person suspected of being infected in the United States could be quarantined against their will ("Executive Order," 2003). By June 2003, the number of new cases had slowed down enough to end the daily WHO updates and travel advisories were slowly being lifted ("SARS," 2011). On July 5, the WHO declared SARS had been contained ("WHO," 2003). As of 2005, no new cases of person-to-person transmission have been reported ("Surveillance," 2005). Indicators and Data

The main epidemiological indicators for SARS identified by leading healthcare organizations such as the WHO and EpiNorth are the incubation period, infectious period, and case-fatality ratios (World Health Organization: Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response [WHO/DCDSR], 2003; Kutsar, 2004). According to the WHO, the median incubation period reported was 4-5 days, with a minimum reported incubation period of 1 day in 4 cases and a maximum of 14 days reported in China. After further analysis of 1425 cases it was determined that 95% of patients would begin to experience symptoms within 14.22 days on infection (WHO/DCDSR, 2003). The infectious period, or the period of communicability, was determined to be within the second week of illness, when patients are more severely ill and experiencing rapid deterioration (Kutsar, 2004). During the SARS outbreak of 2003, 8,093 people were infected and 774 of these people died as a result of their infection, with a case-fatality rate of 9.6% (CDC, 2005; "Revised U.S. Surveillance," 2003). The cases were reported from 29 countries on 4 continents, with 29 cases from the United States ("Revised U.S. Surveillance," 2003). Other epidemiologic factors affecting the spread of SARS were found, as well. Twenty-one percent of all cases were healthcare workers involved in procedures that generated aerosols, with 3% of the United States cases and 43% of the Canadian cases being people in this group (Kutsar, 2004). Other risk factors found included “household contact with a probable case of SARS, increasing age, male sex and the...
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