Monday, April 07, 2003


Doesn’t anyone cover their mouth when they cough anymore? The bus ride this morning felt like I was captive within a bacteria/Viral haven. Ok, ok, so the coughing baby next to me isn’t likely to give me anything I haven’t already had…. But the guy at the back of the bus hacking up a lungI don’t want whatever it is he’s got. No thank you. Cover your mouth when you cough! And yet, there I sat, on a closed up bus….. breathing….. did you know that an average human breathes about 60,000 times a day?

Did you know that the Canadian cases of SARS has now risen above 188 (maybe as many as 226) – one of the highest rates outside of Asia (where the disease began months ago)! Our Federal Health Minister, Anne McLellan, said that the federal government would invoke the Quarantine Act, if necessary.


I don’t know what to think about this SARS stuff. It doesn’t help the media portrayal of it, or the way some Doctors publicly "recall" ” the similarities between the beginnings of SARS and the also humble beginnings of the 1918 Spanish Flu (which by the way only killed 22 million people). But in this case, blissful ignorance may put your self, or others, at unneccessary risk…

Latest SARS news seems to indicate that Cases in Alberta aren't problematic, with only 5 cases confirmed instead of the original 7. With Canada at a total above 129, and the worldwide caseload at more than 2600 people infected (and over 100 dead), there is room for some concern. Current mortality (worldwide) rates sit at about 3 – 5%. With the development of pneumonia and/or other complications, the victims deteriorate within as little as five days. Development of a vaccine will likely take years, so won't be helpful at this time.

SARS erupted in the south China region – which has historically been known as an area where animal viruses “jump” to humans (as happened in 1997 with a strain of avian influenza virus, and maybe even the Spanish Flu). No one really knows why, but it is suspected that the close proximity between humans and animals in that region is responsible for this “odd” phenomenon. Or maybe it is just bad luck….

Here’s what else I know about SARS

SARS is believed to be a Coronavirus. Little to no research has been done on this type of virus until this outbreak. There is currently no cure for SARS.

The main symptoms of SARS are a fever (above 38 C), a dry cough and breathing difficulties. SARS patients may also suffer from chills, headache, muscular stiffness, loss of appetite, malaise, confusion, rash and diarrhea. Also, (as if they don’t have enough problems) the onset of pneumonia.

Health experts say the disease has an incubation period of between 2-7 days, (with 3-5 days being more common) before victims manifest actual symptoms. As I said before, severe cases result in death in sometimes less than five days.

Doctors worldwide have been treating SARS with Ribavirin (an anti viral drug) and steroids (to reduce the amount of damage to the lungs). Some of the more severely affected patients have been treated with an actual serum taken from the antibodies developed by recovered patients. It is believed that if treated early, most healthy patients should be able to recover, but that’s bad news for any one with a compromised immune system…

SARS spreads through “droplets” (sneezing or coughing). Direct infection can usually occur within a radius of about 3-6 feet (1-2 meters). SARS can survive outside of the host (human) body for three to six hours (although Hong Kong experts now believe that at room temperature SARS can survive longer). This means any contact with an object that is tainted by the virus (phones, pens, keys, fast food etc) could lead to infection if a person then touches their eyes, nose or mouth. Air travel is helping it spread around the world at a high rate. SARS is the reason for the first disease-based travel warning issued in the World Health Organization's entire 55-year history.

Health experts have not ruled out that SARS could be airborne.

WHO has stated that SARSappears” to be less infectious than influenza (and is even less contagious when protective measures are used), but Hong Kong's health chief has claimed the virus to be highly infectious. It's not comfortable when the officials/experts can't agree... but it can't hurt to ere on the side of caution...

It is believed that SARS can be killed by a solution of water and common household bleach. For prevention, extra care with hygiene is recommended, washing hands often with soap, and avoiding touching the mouth, eyes or nose. Some people have begun wearing masks, and some governments have recommended this action. Take care people. Wash your hands.... buy a mask if you must, but COVER YOUR MOUTH when you cough and or sneeze!

Achu, Achu, We all fall down........

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