- Countryside in Crisis?
- The Energy Water Food Stress Nexus
- Unsustainable Fishing
- Keeping pace with a digital revolution
- Global health in the 21st Century
- Adapting to an urban future
- Educating for tomorrow
- Digital technology in Africa
- Persistent poverty in Britain
- Can the UK ever be sustainable?
- Plastic pollution in the oceans
- Natural disasters: how to improve?
- Not In My Back Yard
- Digital Divide in the UK?
- Importing goods, exporting drought?
- Britain’s ageing population
- Engineering our climate
- The future shape of Capitalism
- Migration: skills and the job market
- Razing the Rainforest
- London under water
- Concreting the countryside
- Future of low carbon energy
- Africa in the 21st Century
What is SARS?
SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus. SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained. The disease is an especially challenging threat in a closely interconnected and highly mobile world.
SARS was the first severe and readily transmissible new disease to emerge in the 21st century. Thought many factors about the disease remains poorly understood, SARS has shown a capacity to spread along routes of international air travel.
Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)
How did the virus spread in 2003?
The first cases of SARS are now known to have emerged in mid November 2002 in Guangdong Province, in South Eastern China.
SARS was carried out of Guangdong Province on 21 February 2003 by an infected medical doctor who had treated patients in his home town. He brought the virus to the ninth floor of a four-star hotel in Hong Kong. Days later, guests and visitors to the hotel’s ninth floor had seeded outbreaks of cases in the hospital systems of Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore.
At the same time, the disease began spreading around the world along international air travel routes as guests at the hotel flew home to Toronto and elsewhere, and as other medical doctors who had treated the earliest cases in Vietnam and Singapore travelled internationally for medical or other reasons.
Source: The World Health Organization (WHO)
The number of people worldwide who were diagnosed with SARS during the 2003 outbreak.
The number of people who lost their lives to SARS in 2003.
Number of countries which reported cases of SARS in 2003.
Though exceptional in terms of
its impact, severity, ease of international spread, and many puzzling feature, SARS is only one of around 50 internationally important outbreaks to which WHO and its partners respond in any given year.
Timeline of the SARS virus
16 November 2002: First known case of SARS discovered in Guangdong province, China.
14 February 2003: The Chinese Ministry of Health reports that there have been 300 cases including five deaths in Guangdong province from an "acute respiratory syndrome".
11 March 2003: Hong Kong health officials report an outbreak of an "acute respiratory syndrome" among hospital workers.
15 March 2003: WHO confirms that Sars is a "worldwide health threat" and that possible cases have been identified in Canada, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
19 March 2003: Sars spreads to the US and Europe with the UK, Spain, Germany and Slovenia reporting cases.
27 March 2003: WHO recommends screening departing travellers from worst affected areas.
"Our vulnerability to such diseases has been heightened by the growth in international travel and the globalization of food production. In addition, deforestation and urbanization continue to displace wildlife, increasing the probability that wild creatures will come in contact with domesticated animals and humans."
Dr W. Ian Lipkin M.D
Professor of Epidemiology, Neurology and Pathology at Columbia University
29 March 2003: Carlo Urbani, the WHO official who first identified Sars, dies of the disease.
2 April 2003: WHO recommends postponement of all non-essential travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong province of China.
9 April 2003: First Sars case reported in Africa.
14 April 2003: First case reported in India.
23 April 2003: WHO recommends postponement of non-essential travel to Toronto, Canada. All schools in Beijing are shut for two weeks in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease.
27 April 2003: The Beijing authorities order the closure of all entertainment venues in the Chinese capital - including theatres, cinemas and karaoke bars - until the outbreak is brought under control.
5 May 2003: The Chinese authorities quarantine 10,000 people in the eastern city of Nanjing.
5 June 2003: The WHO announces that the outbreak has peaked around the world - including China.
How SARS is transmitted
The main way that SARS seems to spread is by close person-to-person contact. The virus that causes SARS is thought to be transmitted most readily by respiratory droplets (droplet spread) produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Droplet spread can happen when droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled a short distance (generally up to 3 feet) through the air and deposited on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes of persons who are nearby.
The virus also can spread when a person touches a surface or object contaminated with infectious droplets and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eye(s). In addition, it is possible that the SARS virus might spread more broadly through the air (airborne spread) or by other ways that are not now known.