Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS): A new emerging disease in the 21st century

Hippokratia 2003, 7(2):81-83

M Raptopoulou-Gigi
2nd Dpt Internal Medicine, Hippokratio General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece


SARS need to be regarded as a particularly serious threat for several reasons:
a. the disease has no vaccine and no treatment
b. the virus comes from a family notorious for its frequent mutations making the prospects for vaccine development questionable
c. all available diagnostic tests have limitations
d. epidemiology and pathogenesis of the disease are poorly understood
e. the disease concentrates in hospital staff: the human resource vital to control
f. a significant proportion of patients requires intensive care
g. the incubation period of 10 days allows spread via air travel between any two cities in the world The mean incubation period of the disease is estimated to be 4-6 days, and the time from onset of clinical symptoms to admission to hospital between 3-5 days.
The estimated fatality rate is reported to be 13.2 % for patients 60 years old, suggesting that age is strongly associated with the outcome of the disease, whereas early admission to hospital seems not to alter outcome.