• Vol. 35 No. 5, 368–373
  • 15 May 2006

SARS: How to Manage Future Outbreaks?



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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was an unknown disease barely 3 years ago. After the World Health Organization declared the world SARS-free on 5 July 2003, there were episodic recurrences of SARS between September 2003 and May 2004, including 4 cases of laboratory-acquired SARS. SARS posed a mammoth challenge because of the impact of nosocomial transmission on healthcare manpower and facilities, and the resources needed for controlling and preventing further spread. Through worldwide scientific collaboration, the medical community has made much progress in unraveling its enigma, though much more needs to be discovered. This paper highlights how we can apply our knowledge of its epidemiology, mode of transmission, clinical course, ICU admission, complications, predictors of poor outcome, treatment and infection control to help us avert a catastrophic outbreak, and to manage our resources and patients. SARS preparedness and response planning must be flexible and dynamic so that appropriate measures can be implemented as an outbreak progresses. Even if SARS does not re-emerge, the experience gained from such planning is valuable in preparing for threats of bioterrorism or a global avian influenza A (H5N1) virus pandemic.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV), which crossed from wild animals at live markets to man in mid-November 2002 in Guangdong, southern China. SARS was the first pandemic of the 21st century.

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