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Where has our little SARS gone?

A decade later is SARS ready to come home?


2003: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) rips around the globe causing serious illness and death. In many ways, we’re still dealing with the preparedness aftermath of the SARS situation as we struggle to maintain some level of sustainable preparedness for biological events.

SARS was contained in the summer of 2003 after it mysteriously vanished from the environment. Few cases of SARS-like infections were seen in late 2003/early 2004, but it seems that SARS, in an uncharacteristic move for a virus, had died off. Or did it?

According to an article in Canada.com, we can’t be sure SARS wont come back despite evidence that the previous novel corona virus that causes SARS is indeed dead.

The reason, according the those quoted in the Canada.com article, is that animals can still transmit a SARS-type virus to humans. The Civet has been long believed to be the vector between bats and humans, allowing SARS to make the leap between species.

According to the Canada.com article:

“While the precise sequence of events that resulted in the 2003 SARS virus can never be traced, it's clear that the factors that led to its emergence still exist. Bats still carry SARS-like viruses. Small carnivores still eat dead bats. People in some parts of the world still trap small carnivores and sell them as food in markets crowded with other mammals...”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has confirmed cases of infection with a novel corona virus (nCoV) according a World Health Organization (WHO) update. Of the 15 reported cases of infection with this nCoV, 9 of those have died.

World Health Organization defines cases of nCoV infection as confirmed or probable. Confirmed cases are those with laboratory confirmation of infection. According to the WHO Revised Interim Case Definition nCoV, a probable case is defined as:
"A person with an acute respiratory infection with clinical, radiological, or histopathological evidence of pulmonary parenchymal disease (e.g. pneumonia or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, (ARDS); AND no possibility of laboratory confirmation for novel corona virus either because the patient or samples are not available for testing; AND close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case."

Close contact is defined by WHO as:
"...anyone who provided care for the patient, including a health care worker or family member, or who had other similarly close physical contact;
anyone who stayed at the same place (e.g. lived with, visited) as a probable or confirmed case while the case was symptomatic."


Are we seeing the start of SARS, the next generation? If so, planning for biologic events is more important than ever.

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