Simply put, SARS is a highly contagious and deadly disease of the human respiratory system brought on by the combination of the Coronavirus (a large group of virus causing common colds) family and the Paramyxovirus family (another group of virus that causes mumps and measles). This combination virus that causes SARS is termed as SARS-CoV (SARS-Coronavirus).
In recent years, SARS has taken the form of a pandemic between November 2002 and July 2003, claiming as many as 774 deaths and infecting 8000+ cases worldwide mainly affecting those in the 50 years and over age bracket recording high mortality rates. It spread rapidly originating from China and stretched trans-continents within a matter of a couple of months. However, with the aggressive management of individual governments and the WHO the pandemic was brought under control within a year, by which time substantial damage to life and livestock had been incurred.
During normal times, SARS exists in nominal population. Symptoms of SARS are often life-threatening with high fevers accompanied with chills and shivering. Other symptoms will include any or some of the following:
• Dry cough or Sputum cough;
• Sore throat;
• Muscle pain and body ache (Myalgia);
• Nausea and vomiting;
• Fatigue; and
• Shortness of breath.
Research has shown that the body’s own immune system over-reacts to SARS-CoV causing more damage.
Confirmatory diagnosis is done through a combination of tests. However, the easiest and sure method is prescribing a chest X-ray at the beginning of diagnostic procedures. In addition, blood clotting tests and those checking blood chemistry are also performed. Blood chemistry tests will include alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and (creatine phosphokinase) CPK checks along with checks on Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), white blood cell count, platelet count and lymphocyte counts. In combination and reading the results together and in relation to other test results gives a complete and confirmatory diagnosis of SARS in usual times, since there is no pathognomonic appearance of SARS.