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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Severe acute respiratory syndrome, also known as SARS, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus called a coronavirus. Six coronaviruses can infect people. These viruses were first identified in the 1960’s. Specific to SARS is the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV.
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.
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.
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. 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 wait for further instructions. I also would begin immediate transfer to an inpatient setting at the nearest hospital.
As a community health nurse, we are not only concerned with serious outbreaks such as SARS, but also the everyday health risks the community may pose. For example, a poor air quality index can severely affect the people in the community that have asthma or respiratory disease. In the event of poor air quality, as a community health nurse I would encourage the people to stay indoors when air quality is poor, keep their windows closed, encourage them to use the air conditioner to help filter the air in the home, and encourage them to remove any indoor plants if they seem to irritate or causes symptoms. I would also encourage them to check local air quality levels prior to any outdoor activities and to keep the activity to a minimum if they must be outdoors.

February 10th, 2003:
305 cases reported in Guangdong
November 16th, 2002
The first suspected, but unidentified outbreak of SARS was found in Guangdong province of China. In the beginnings of the outbreak, it was an unknown respiratory illness.

February 21st, 2003:
A doctor who treated cases in Guangdong traveled to Hong Kong. The doctor stayed on the ninth floor of a hotel. He then developed symptoms and later died. Approx 80% of Hong Kong cases were traced back to this doctor.

February 23rd, 2003:
A businessperson who stayed at the same hotel in Hong Kong as the doctor traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam. He died later died. At least seven hospital workers were exposed.

March 4th, 2003:
A young man who had previously visited a friend in the same hotel in Hong Kong had later traveled and was hospitalized in Australia.
February 25th, 2003:
A businessperson who previously traveled to Hong Kong and Guangdong traveled home to Taiwan. This was the beginning of the outbreak in Taiwan.

April 6th, 2003:
A case of SARS was found in the Philippines from a person who recently returned from Hong Kong
March 15th, 2003:
World Health Organization (WHO)
Issued a glob al health alert about the respiratory illness outbreak and then defined it as SARS

April 26th, 2003:
Cases/deaths reported in Beijing
April 12th, 2003:
There were 13 documented deaths from SARS in Canada.

May 3rd, 2003:
FIFA Women’s Cup was moved to the USA from China due to the outbreak.
This would be the beginning of the 27 cases of SARS that was seen in the United States of America.
End of April 2003:
WHO begins lifting air travel and began declaring the outbreak in certain places as over.

B-surveillance-full.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
Online College Missouri- Missouri University - WGU Missouri. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2014, from
SARS Expert Committee - Reports. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2014, from
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). (2014, May 19). Retrieved November 14, 2014, from

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