The first reports of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome were in February 2003 in South Asia. SARS is a viral and acute respiratory illness that is caused by a coronavirus. The first signs of the disease emerged among the staff in a Hanoi Hospital. Within two weeks, reports of similar outbreaks were reported in hospitals in Toronto, Hong Kong and Singapore.
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Hanoi, Hong Kong, Toronto and Singapore were the first hot spots of the disease. Rapid increases in infections were reported among health workers and their close families. Hospital staff unaware of the disease outbreak, failed to shelter themselves away from the infectious agents. Although the outbreak began in health centers, the transmission soon spread out. In total, 8,098 people across the globe were infected in the 2003 outbreak, of which, 774 lost their lives (CDC).
The main symptom of SARS is high fever with patients showing a body temperature greater than 38.0°C. Others are body aches, headaches, discomfort, diarrhea, dry cough and pneumonia. The disease spreads through close body-to-body contacts. The SARS virus spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The virus then deposits on the mucous membrane of the eyes, nose and mouth of another person who is close by.
The incubation period of the disease was between five and six days with a maximum of 14 days and a minimum of one day. The disease is highly communicable during the second week with no transmission if the disease is isolated within the first five days of infection. Respiratory excretion of the disease starts in the first two days of infection and declines after day 15 of infection; it is highest within 6-14 days of infection. Stool release of the virus begins on the third day of infection and is highest between day 6 and 14 of infection.
Graphical Representation of the SARS Infection Worldwide
On the X-axis are the dates of new infections. On the Y-axis is the number of daily new infections
SARS is a deadly disease that if not treated quickly, can wipe out a whole community. As such, its outbreak has far-reaching consequences on any community. SARS outbreak can lower the productivity of a community because of the decrease in the number of able-bodied workforce.
The reason why a large number of people died in the 2003 SARS outbreak was the absence of clear guidelines on reporting the outbreak. On detecting the presence of the disease, the health provider should notify the relevant agencies at once. He or she shall activate an outbreak control team comprised of the relevant organizations. The provider shall then count the number of cases reported and then determine the population size. From this information, the health officer shall calculate the attack rate and determine the population that is at risk of infection. He or she should furnish members of the control team with this information. The health provider shall conduct further epidemiological studies to define clearly the associated risk factors. The health provider shall also notify members of the public of the disease outbreak. He will furnish them with the disease symptoms and ask them to report any cases of the disease to him.
Asthma patients require clean air at all times. I would first ensure the distribution of inhalers to patients who are not using the inhalers. I would also tell the patients to carry their inhalers at all times, and avoid areas that are congested. I would also admit patients with acute respiratory problems to a hospital where there is better air supply. I would suggest a change of location to patients who are not admitted in health care facilities.
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