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History of SARS as a Zoonic Disease

Updated on April 25, 2014

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory condition that originates from the zoonotic disease. Among the first symptoms of the disease are flu, fever, lethargy symptoms, myalgia, sore throat, cough and other nonspecific symptoms. High fever and influenza are the only symptoms that are common to most patients. The fever exceeds 38 °C (100 °F). Shortness of the breath may also occur later. Another initial symptom is influenza. The condition was first recognized in 2003. An infection with the SARS causing virus may result to respiratory distress or severe breathing problems and in other times, death. The World Health Organization first identified the disease in 2003. The first SARS case was noted in a 48-year-old man who had travelled from the Guangdong province in China, through Hong Kong, Hanoi, and Vietnam. Both the old man and the health practitioner who had diagnosed the illness died from the condition.

The first clue of the outbreak was in 27th November 2002 when the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) in Canada, an electronic warning system, which is part of the World Health Organization’s Outbreak and Alert Response Network (GOARN), collected reports of a “flu” like outbreak in China. This report was obtained through its Internet Media Monitoring and Analysis, and sent to the World Health Organization. While the GPHIN capacity had been gradually upgraded to enable Arabic Chinese, French, English, Spanish and Russian translation, the system was initially limited to English and French in presentation of this information. Therefore, while the first reports of the strange outbreak was in China, there was no English report until 21st January 2003.

The pandemic was significantly controlled by the affected governments in collaboration with WHO in 2003. During that year, airline passengers in affected countries were thoroughly screened at the particular airports. However, in 2004, another SARS outbreak was again reported in China. Unlike the first one, this one was not caused by human interactions, but from the contact of a laboratory virus sample. Despite intense measures taken by governments and world health institutions, the disease remains to be present in animals and human beings because of its ability to mutate. Currently, the disease is spreading at a faster rate and infecting many people in almost all parts of the world.

SARS is one of the zoonotic pathogens, which are transmitted to t human population by another human career, or an intermediate host such as the palm civet. In preventing the development of SARS-CoV virus and ensuing transmission into human populations, heterologous disease models have been incorporated in testing the efficiency of therapies and vaccines on human and Zoonic isolates. (Isolates are SARS careers; there are human and Zoonic/animal careers). Rockx and Feldmann (2011), shows that the zoonotic SARS-CoV strains (this is a type of virus) infect the cynomolgus macaques, and results in histopathological and radiological changes that are noted in mild human cases. Viral replications are higher in animals that are infected with a human phase isolate that comes later in relation to a Zoonotic isolate. There are significant variations in the number of host genes which are differentially regulated. The major functions and pathways were found to be similar and appear in the time of infection with the majority of genes that related to interferon signaling pathways.


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