Throughout the ages pandemic episodes have plagued mankind. Severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS is an example of a modern pandemic that recently affected the world. The SARS pandemic challenged world health care organizations and governments on how to confront a modern day pandemic episode. This paper will explore the origin of SARS and the steps taken to contain and treat the pandemic episode.
SARS emerged mid-November 2002 in southern China, in the province of Guangdong, but was not officially reported until February 2003 to the governmental health care organization of Guangdong (Ahmad, Krumkamp, & Reintjes, 2009). The first case of SARS outside of China that was reported was on March 3, 2003 in Vietnam, with more cases reported from Hong Kong, Canada, Singapore, and Taiwan shortly afterward (Ahmad, Krumkamp, & Reintjes, 2009). By mid-summer of 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) had been notified of 8437 cases worldwide, with 813 deaths (Zhong et al., 2003). The disease spread quickly from China to Europe, North America, and southeast Asia because of travel from where SARS first started.
Patients that were infected by SARS were noted to have atypical pneumonia. They presented with high fevers and respiratory issues that quickly developed into pneumonia within a few days (Zhong et al., 2003). Through serological and nasopharyngeal aspirate testing, the coronavirus (CoV) was determined to be the cause of SARS (Zhong et al., 2003). It was also determined that the persons that were originally exposed to the virus had contact with animals, most likely to prepare food, at a produce market in the province of Guangdong (Zhong et al., 2003). The virus had started with the animals, crossed over to humans, and mutated.
SARS is highly contagious and is spread by close contact with infected person. The method of transmission of SARS is respiratory (CDC, 2005). Many health care workers that were caring for SARS victims were also infected with SARS. A study done at SunYat-sen University found that health care workers that were involved with intubation, doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, suctioning, and completing bronchoscopies where at the highest risk to develop SARS due to their exposure (Chen, 2009). This put many health care workers at risk at the beginning of the pandemic because of their increased exposure to the disease.
The World Health Organization became involved with the pandemic to help organize health care organizations and governments in order to contain the spread of SARS further. As of July 2003, new cases of people infected with SARS was halted except for four cases that resulted from exposure to animals that naturally have the virus and breaches laboratory settings (WHO, 2004). WHO updated their original guidelines because of the studies that have been done with SARS and what was learned in the four cases after July 2003. An alert for continued vigilance for screening for SARS was also noted by WHO because of the...