Western Governors University
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus called a coronavirus (“CDC,” n.d.). Six coronaviruses can infect people. These viruses were first identified in the 1960’s. Specific to SARS is the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV (“cdc,” n.d.).
SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. In just a few short months, the virus spread to more than twenty-four countries, which included North America, S. America, Europe, and Asia. This became known as the SARS global outbreak of 2003. (“cdc,” n.d.)
During the 2003 outbreak, 8,098 people worldwide contracted the virus. Of those 8,098 people 774 died and only eight people tested positive for the virus in the United States. Luckily, the SARS outbreak did not spread more widely in the United States. Initially the epidemic of SARS was associated with an outbreak of atypical pneumonia that originated in Guangdong Province, located in Southeast China. After virus isolation, serum testing, and molecular testing, scientists were able to discover that SARS had been circulating in Guangdong Province for a couple of months before causing a major outbreak. With further testing, specific to the SARS coronavius (CoV), it was found that the SARS CoV was the infectious agent that caused the outbreak in Guangdong. Further findings proved, through genetic analysis, that the SARS CoV found in patients in Guangdong shared the same origin with other countries and identified a genetic pathway that matched the spread to other parts of the world. (“cdc.,” n.d.)
The main mode of transmission for SARS is through close person-to-person contact. Respiratory droplets spread the virus that causes SARS when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The spread occurs when the droplets from an infected person land on a person’s mouth, nose, or eyes. The close person-to-person contact refers to a short distance up to 3 feet between persons. The virus can also spread through touching a contaminated surface and then the person touches his or her mouth, nose, and eye. (“webMD,” n.d.) This is why hand hygiene can be so important.
If there were to be an outbreak of SARS in my community, it could be socially, psychologically, and financially disruptive. There would be discrimination and prejudice against those affected; they no longer would be socially accepted. The virus would alienate people and push them away from each other due to fear of contracting the virus. There would be the possibility of employers terminating people to attempt to keep the workplace safe, causing financial strain on families and in turn the community as well. For those that would not survive there would be psychological trauma that would need to be addressed for friends and loved ones of the deceased to cope. Children would not be allowed in school, therefore would not receive proper education.
After learning that a family has just returned from overseas in the community and has contracted SARS with confirmation that there are patients in the clinic with the virus, I would immediately isolate the patients. I would then immediately notify the health department by telephone of the positive SARS-CoV test results and