A Tricky Disease

The SARS outbreak of 2003 was a global epidemic that caused great controversy around the medical personnel around the world. Being a viral disease, it managed to spread very fast from a small region of China to more than 30 countries in a matter of months.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome is (or hopefully was) a very tricky disease. The reason it was so devastatingly serious is that it starts out looking like a simple case of the flu. Most common symptoms are a high fever, a sore throat, and a dry cough. Yet these do not necessarily point to much. Headaches, muscle pain and gastrointestinal problems also fall into the symptoms of SARS, as well as fatigue. But all these are very common to any number of diseases and they don’t all manifest at once or in one individual.

No doctor can immediately tell there is something wrong if a patient has one or many of these symptoms, but if left untreated they can lead to pneumonia with the tattletale sign of shortness of breath along the way. However, again, SARS does not manifest itself in the same way for different patients.

If any of the usual symptoms appear in one person, they can be treated separately as something different until it is too late, which risks the life and the patient as well as all those who have come into contact with him or her.

As of 2003 the coronavirus responsible for the illness is believed to have been completely contained and the last infected people submitted to quarantine. Still, the World Health Organization remains on the lookout for any signs of another outbreak that would lead to many deaths in the future, since there is no available cure to date.

The fact that a cure has not yet been found is very troubling and adds to the notoriety and seriousness of the SARS disease. Prevention and avoidance of areas that have been previously infected is highly recommended.