Infectious Diseases: Prevention and Control

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An infectious disease with significant morbidity and mortality: - “sars -severe acute respiratory syndrome”

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a fatal respiratory illness. SARS first appeared in China in November 2002 within a few months, SARS spread worldwide, carried by unsuspecting travelers. SARS showed how quickly infection can spread in a highly mobile and interconnected world. SARS is caused by a strain of coronavirus, the same family of virus that causes the common cold. Previously these viruses had never been particularly dangerous to humans. Coronavirus can however cause severe disease in animals and that’s why scientists suspected that the SARS virus might have crossed from animals to humans. SARS usually begins with flu like signs and symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches and occasionally diarrhea. SARS spreads through droplets that enter the air when someone with the disease coughs, sneezes or talks. Most experts think SARS spread mainly through close personal contact such as caring for someone with SARS. The virus may be spread through contaminated objects such as doorknobs, telephones and elevator buttons. Many people with SARS develop pneumonia and breathing problems can become so severe that mechanical respirator is needed. People older than 60 especially those with underlying conditions such as diabetes or hepatitis are at higher risk of serious complications like heart and liver failure. Measurement of serum RNA by REAL TIME REVERSE TRANSCRIPTASE POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION TECHNIQUE has a detection rate of 75-80% in the 1ST week of illness. Various researchers and public health team are working on several types of vaccines for SARS but none has been tested in humans. As public health professional we should educate people to follow various safety guidelines to prevent SARS like wash your hands, wear disposable gloves, mask, wash personal items, and disinfect surfaces.

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