Skip to comments.First Case of Mysterious SARS Disease Confirmed in Germany
Posted on 04/01/2003 8:21:52 AM PST by riri
International health experts are hunting for the virus that causes SARS, the flu-like disease that has killed 61 people worldwide and infected at least one in Germany.
The first case of the flu-like disease Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was confirmed in Germany on Tuesday. A 72-year-old man who recently traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam and Singapore was diagnosed as having the illness by the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg.
[Clinic in Hemer near Iserlohn in North-rhine Westphalia. ] The man is being treated at a clinic in the town of Hemer in southwestern Germany (photo). He is already on his way to recovery, the clinic announced on its Web site. "The patient no longer has a fever or suffers from any other conditions." The man will be kept in quarantine until tests confirm that he is not contagious, the clinic wrote.
Four other people are thought to have SARS in Germany, while there are twelve suspected cases, according to the Robert Koch Institute, which is largely responsible for monitoring public health in the country.
German doctors are working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and clinics worldwide to find out what causes the disease and how it can be stopped. SARS has already killed 61 people, mainly in China and Hong Kong, and it has spread throughout Asia, Europe, North America.
Control may be possible
The German states have established a surveillance system to deal with any outbreaks of the disease. The Robert Koch Institute has announced that the patients in Germany suspected of having SARS are all in quarantine. International airports have posted announcements in English and German to alert passengers traveling to or from Asia to be aware of the symptoms of the disease and get medical attention if they suspect they may have contracted it.
The Bernhard Nocht Institute has warned the public not to panic. SARS is not as infectious as influenza, Director Bernhard Fleischer said in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday. Furthermore, the disease can only be contracted through close contact with infected people. That suggests that it may be controllable, Fleischer said.
Virologist Christian Drosten, also from the Hamburg institute, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that one would have to be coughed on by an infected person to contract SARS. The disease is transmitted through exhaled droplets and bodily secretions.
Fatal in few cases
SARS is highly contagious, comparable to the Ebola virus that stemmed from monkeys and was responsible for hundreds of deaths in Africa in the 1990s, according to the World Health Organization. Virologist Drosten said the SARS disease is fatal for 4 percent of patients, while the Zaire strain of Ebola kills 90 percent of the people who contract it.
On Monday, a WHO spokesperson said the world body was close to identifying the cause of SARS. "We can identify the causative agent within a few days, but we are not sure if we can develop the cure in such a short time, Hitoshi Oshitani, regional advisor on communicable diseases, told a press conference in Manila, Philippines." WHO established an international research project consisting of eleven labs in ten countries on March 17 to find the virus that causes SARS.
Origin in Asia
According to the WHO, the first case of the disease was reported in Hanoi, Vietnam in late February. In Guangdong, China, however, investigation is underway to determine whether an outbreak of "atypical" pneumonia in November 2002 was linked to the appearance of SARS. Researchers fear that farmers' livestock in the southern Chinese province may have infected humans.
The main symptoms of SARS are high fever (above 38°C/ 100.4°F), a dry cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. It has an incubation period of two to seven days. To avoid transmitting the disease, patients are put in quarantine.
Over 1,600 cases of SARS have been reported worldwide. International travel is responsible for the disease's spread throughout the world. Cases have been reported in 15 countries, including Britain, France, Italy, Ireland, Romania and Switzerland.
Ummmm...we've been hearing that for a while now.
The bad thing is that it seems to take about three weeks of hospitalization and it's spreading.
I'd like to be a manufacturer of hospital beds today.
How did Ebola get into this story, this looks like an out and out scare tactic.