Living with SARS
Updated: Sep 10
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us that the world is never, at any time, safe. And thanks to the outbreak, scientists around the world have come to understand the need for better exploration of genomic, geographic and zoologic matters. More specifically, more studies are being undertaken to abate unforeseen woe and conserve our fortunes given the vast amount of pathogens harboring wild genetic traits that continue to wait patiently for the right opportunity to strike.
According to a study by a team of scientists from different parts of the world, the SARS-COV-2 lineage responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic has existed in bats for 40-70 years. It probably carries other viruses with the ability to cause severe damages in human beings. In this article, we will take a look at the evolutionary history and mode of operation of the SARS-COV-2 viruses.
What is SARS?
SARS stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome. It first appeared in Southern China in November 2002 and was recognized as a global threat in March 2003 after spreading to more than 25 countries across the world. Over 8,000 individuals were infected, with as many as 774 dying in the process.
What are the signs and symptoms of SARS?
SARS comes with a lot of flu-like symptoms. However, the most common of known symptoms among patients is high fever (>38.0ﹾC). Apart from fever, infected people have reported experiencing pneumonia, headache, body aches, fatigue, diarrhea, dry cough, shortness of breath, and general discomfort. There are also reported cases of mild respiratory discomfort at the outset of the infection. However, many patients that tested negative to SARS-CoV were asymptomatic. As such, the diagnosis of SARS is carried out only if the person has been exposed to specific risk factors within ten days prior to falling ill.
What are the causes of SARS?
SARS is caused primarily by a coronavirus known as SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS-CoV has been found in palm civets and bats in Southern China. However, other infectious pathogens have been linked to some cases of SARS.
How is SARS spread?
SARS is transmitted majorly via bodily contacts, especially those involving respiratory droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, the droplets move over a short distance (generally up to 3 feet) through the air and enter the mucus membranes of the respiratory openings (eyes, nose or mouth) of anyone nearby. The virus has also been proven to transmit through contaminated object or surface. This can occur when a non-infected individual touches a surface or object already contaminated with infectious droplets and then proceed (whether intentionally or not) to touch his or her nose, mouth or eye. It is also possible that SARS-COV is transmissible via air. However, there is a few evidence available to back that up.
What are the risk factors of SARS?
Everyone and anyone is at risk of SARS-CoV, irrespective of the age, class, health status or genotype. However, in the 2002-2003 outbreak, a lot of the affected persons shared common traits. For instance, as much as a 50% mortality rate was reported among patients over the age of 50. Pregnant women and those with underlying diseases were found to be repeatedly at risk.
How is SARS diagnosed?
People that displays symptoms of SARS, particularly those that have were exposed to specific risk factors are tested using enzyme-linked immunoassays (EIA) or reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (PCR). These tests are carried out using blood or respiratory secretions.
What are the treatment options available to SARS patients?
While an effective cure is yet to be found, SARS infections are managed using oxygen therapy. In severe cases, patients may undergo mechanical ventilation and tracheal intubation to support life prior to the onset of the recovery process. Patients with basic symptoms receive similar treatment to those infected with atypical pneumonia.
What are the tips for prevention?
Standard precautions that you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from SARS-CoV include:
· Frequent and thorough washing of your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers and water.
· Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
· Avoid sharing drinks, food and utensils.
· Avoid close contact with sick persons.
· Use of nose and face masks when in public places.