A critical review on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
Dr. Rajkumar Dhaked, Dr. Gajendra Gurav
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a newly emerged infectious disease with a significant morbidity and mortality. On 11 February 2003, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases reported that, since November 2002, an unidentified agent had caused some 300 cases of pneumonia in persons in the south of China. On 12 March 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert regarding these and similar cases in Hong Kong and Vietnam. This clinical syndrome subsequently became known as “severe acute respiratory syndrome” (SARS). Since then, 8098 people in 37 countries have had probable SARS diagnosed, 774 of whom have died, yielding a global case-fatality rate of average 10%. On 5 July 2003, the WHO reported that the last known human chain of transmission of SARS had been broken.
A newly discovered coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has been identified as the cause of SARS. SARS-CoV–like viruses have been detected in Himalayan palm civets and a raccoon-dog in a market in southern China, suggesting that the origin of SARS-CoV may have been from these or other wild animals. Given the possibility that human or animal reservoirs of SARS-CoV may still exist and that SARS may have a seasonal predilection, there is concern that SARS may return in upcoming respiratory seasons. WHO guidelines emphasize the need for all countries to remain vigilant and to maintain their capacity to detect and respond to the potential reemergence of SARS.