SARS discussions - March 16 to May 22, 2003

[CNA - Saturday, Mar 15, 2003]
Five more hospital workers showed symptoms of pneumonia yesterday, bringing the total to 29 in an outbreak that has raised fears of a mystery illness. The Mainland Affairs Council yesterday warned people planning to visit Hong Kong to be alert to the dangers of catching atypical pneumonia there, as a hospital in Taiwan treated a couple suspected of contracting the potentially deadly disease in Guangdong Province. … /15/198082 … /15/198083

[From medical dictionary]
Atypical pneumonia refers to pneumonia caused by Legionella pneumophila, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Chlamydia pneumoniae. While atypical pneumonias have been commonly associated as a whole with milder forms of pneumonia, pneumonia due to Legionella, in particular, can be quite severe and lead to high mortality rates.

Was scanning news articles and this one popped up.

yeah, i heard about this on cnn (i think - i was kinda scanning channels)…

well…cough cough…i guess i’m coming down with something…cough hack cough hack…what’s this phlegm in my throat…

Isn’t it refreshing to know that the probable eventual downfall of all of mankind is not:

a NBC(nuclear, chemical, biological) weapon, or
forgetting to recycle, or
genetic modified foods, or
conserving water, or
feeding Africa, or
an astroroid smashing into the planet Earth…

…but just your typical pneumonial viral infection!!!

Three cheers for low level organisms and viruses. :shock:

A couple of days ago there were 3 reported cases in Taiwan. Are there more yet? Did all of the Taiwan cases affect people who traveled in HK or Guandong? My brother’s considering canceling his visit to Taiwan because the US CDC has warned all travelers to cancel non-essential travel to affected areas and my bro said “with 3 cases, Taiwan’s an affected area.”

Yes all the cases in Taiwan are Guangdong/HK related. So are the deaths of the two people in Toronto, as well as their physician/family doctor who also got sick.

Nothing to be too histerical…yet. They’re still trying to identify/classify the actual strain so that they can run more immediate tests for the bug.

This could end up being pandemic due to ease of travel between nations now, but now that the word is out, many points of entry are now having more health security checks.

I believe Taiwan is pretty vigilant in these things so there shouldn’t be any harsh worries. Plus they have a good medical system.

I’m just wondering if they’ll ever need to quarentine HK, now that’ll be a disaster!

“The Chinese government has not covered up SARS here. There is no need,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday. “We have nothing to hide.”

Barely an hour later, a CNN satellite feed to an apartment compound housing foreigners in Beijing went black during a report on the illness – something that has happened in the past when the news network reported about the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement or other stories that make the communist government uneasy.

According to German newspapers around 150 people worldwide are under obeservation/quarantine. 9 have died so far.

But what about the great quote from the esteemed prime minister of Kiwi… (I paraphrase because I don’t have the paper in front of me)

This may become a pandemic along the lines of the Spanish influenza of 1918…

Let see 150 ish Sick, 9 dead… horrible numbers yes…

1918 20 million dead.


[From the CDC]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HHS, has received reports of outbreaks of a severe form of pneumonia (also being referred to as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS) in Hong Kong SAR, Vietnam, and Guangdong Province in China, Canada, Singapore, Thailand, Germany and Switzerland. Approximately 170 suspected cases had been reported as of March 17. Cases appear to primarily involve health-care workers caring for patients with SARS and close family contacts. CDC is working closely with WHO and country partners in efforts to define the etiology of this infection, to track patterns of its transmission, and to determine effective strategies for its control and prevention. At the present time, a CDC travel advisory recommends that persons with elective or non-essential travel to Hong Kong SAR, Guangdong Province and Hanoi, Vietnam consider postponing such travel. Additional information is available at

The definition of a suspect case of SARS includes the following:

Fever (>38

FYI: CDC information on pandemics (and scares) in the 20th century.

Doctors in Hong Kong have now found the virus that causes it. Now they have to find a cure, but it’s a start.

I’ve got a horrible feeling that SARS is going to explode here over the next few days. Has anyone here had any contact with it yet? Or friends/colleagues?

Pretty stupid of the organizers though not cancelling or moving the HK 7’s to a later date in the year, this weekend… when these sportfans return to their home country or back to Taiwan… they could be brining it with them

A couple of friends are going there… with the pubs being packed and the nightcluns packed with the fans… is this not a bredding ground for the disease

I thought the WHO have put up a travel advisory for HK

I wouldn’t want to be a scaremonger, but I’d say there’s a fairly strong danger of this spreading totally out of control, claiming hundreds of millions of lives around the world, and setting the global economy back 50 years. Of course, we’ll be in one of the worst affected places here in Taiwan, especially in our densely crowded cities. I wish I had a cabin up in the mountains to which I could retreat with a big stock of food. Health services will be overwhelmed, so that patients will not be able to receive appropriate treatment, raising the death toll. Perhaps the luckiest ones are those who catch it early, get the best medical treatment and pull through – then they’ll have some immunity and will be safe while the rest of us drop like flies.

But I wouldn’t want to be a scaremonger.

That’s what they said about AIDS but it looks like humanity will live through AIDS and whatever else that may come at us. But then I think about Planet of the Apes, where humans are weak and make stupid decisions.

Whoa, easy on those headlines. As far as I can tell, there have only been about 1400+ caes worldwide. I didn’t read the article you cited but I imagine it says what you mentioned below, that as many as 3000 in Toronto have been exposed–ie, they’ve been in contact with someone who has the infection. That does not mean they’ve been infected themselves.

Health Canada plan to screen passengers for SARS to be in place by weekend
This story states 35 infected in Canada, most of whom are in Toronto.

Whoa, easy on those headlines.[/quote]
Aye, only the people in a SUBURB or Toronto, who visited a certain hospital after Mar 10th?/12th? (until yesterday when they shut the place down) are being asked to voluntarily quarantine themselves(~10 days) because the first patient who was diagnosed with SARS(and died) was not quarantined properly. So given the fair-sized medical staff, service staff, police, ambulance crew, fire fighters, visitors, pizza delivery boys etc ect and their immediate families, it equates loosly to about 3000 people over a 15+ day period… so not that bad IMHO.

It is unfortunate nowadays that people are reduced to only reading/reacting to headlines and not reading the entire story sigh.

I reiterate again people… the best way to combat SARS is to WASH YOUR HANDS!

Ever buy those chinese snack foods where there’s a little cartoon on the back telling kids that they should WASH THEIR HANDS? Do it!

So always WASH YOUR HANDS before you:
a) rub your eyes!
b) pick your nose!
c) eat your food!
d) touch your girlfriend!

Surgical masks are totally useless against SARS if you’re going to do A) B) C) & D) above if your don’t WASH YOUR HANDS!

Good advice on the handwashing. As for the masks, at least they provide a physical barrier against unsanitary manual intrusion into the nose and mouth, so they might be of some benefit. A gentle reminder to wash up before dining or mining.