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What is SARS?

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a serious viral infection that affects the respiratory system. Back in 2002 and 2003 there was a SARS epidemic that ended up with over 8,000 cases and nearly 800 deaths. The outbreak started in southern china when a strain of Coronavirus mutated and then was able to spread to humans from animals. Civet cats were believed to have been the main source of animal to human contamination.

The SARS epidemic spread from China to other Asian countries, then Canada had a large outbreak and a few cases in the UK followed. The outbreak was brought under control by isolating all cases of SARS and checking the airways of passengers from affected countries.

The World Health Organisation is always vigilant of SARS reoccurring. Recently, in 2012, UK officials have identified a new SARS-like Coronavirus. A patient taken from Qatar to be treated in the UK was the second confirmed patient with this SARS-like Coronavirus. It remains unclear exactly what kind of problems an outbreak of the new virus will present (if any).

There is no evidence of the virus tranferring from person to person and the World Health Organisation has not suggested any travel restrictions. It is too early to tell if other restrictions will be necessary.

With 1 in 10 people who contract SARS dying from the virus, it is a serious condition. Older people are at highest risk of fatalities, with 1 in 2 people over the age of 65 who contract the virus dying.

There is no cure yet, but research into SARS is continuing and scientists remain hopeful. If a patient shows symptoms of SARS they will be isolated in a secure hospital until the symptoms have passed.

Health professionals have reassured the public that the new SARS-like Coronavirus isn’t anything to worry about at present. There have only been two cases so far and these cases have been less serious than many other viruses.

SARS spread quickly, but this virus doesn’t appear to be the same. The World Health Organisation will remain vigilant and put precautions in place if it proves to be necessary.

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