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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) – Part 1

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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;
• Cold;
• Sore throat;
• Muscle pain and body ache (Myalgia);
• Headache;
• Nausea and vomiting;
• Dizziness;
• Diarrhoea;
• 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.

Of late, some more tests have been added to arrive at conclusive results. These tests include the ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test which detects antibodies to SARS. There are also the cumbersome Immunofluoroscence tests and the PCR (polymerase Chain Reaction) tests that detect the presence of genetic material of the SARS virus from any body fluid

It is important to note that SARS spreads through air, body fluids etc so casual or sexual contact with an infected person will cause SARS in the other person. Also, keep in mind that if a SARS infected person sneezes or coughs without covering their mouth, the dispersed droplets in the air carrying the germs can come in contact with a healthy person and infect them. The SARS virus can survive on solid surfaces including on the human skin for up to 3 hours to even 4 days beyond drying up of the infected droplets. The newly infected person may show symptoms anywhere from 3 to 10 days after contracting the SARS-CoV. At below freezing climates, the SARS-CoV survives for years until it gets a suitable environment to spread again.

In Part 2, we shall take a look at the treatment options available to tackle this potentially fatal and fast spreading virus along with the sequelae and prevention techniques for SARS.

Mamta Singh is a published author (Migraines for the Informed Woman –- Tips from a Sufferer. Publisher: Rupa & Co.), seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. Mamta runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business, and is presently training as a Holistic Healing Therapist from the U.K. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation.
Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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