The World Health Organization declared that the global death toll from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome climbed to 573, and 7,548 were infected as of May 14. The W.H.O. admitted that the disease is far more deadly than previously thought.
While the nefarious disease is debated and studied by medical network institutions throughout the world, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a new, unidentified pneumonia, indicating the SARS virus has mutated.
According the an article in The New York Times, a Santa Clara, California, man, who stayed in the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong, was hospitalized on March 17 shortly after his return to the United States with symptoms of pneumonia. Later tests showed he had developed antibodies against a strain of coronavirus, thought to be the family of diseases at the root of SARS. His case, according to The New York Times, was one of the most serious of the 58 known suspected cases in California.
California, which has more travelers from Asia than any other state, has more reported SARS cases than any other state.
W.H.O. officials revised the death rate of those infected with the disease from 6 percent to 10 percent after studying data from Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam.
SARS first surfaced as a mysterious disease in Southern China last November. The illness includes symptoms such as fever, coughing and breathing problems. But a new illness with SARS-like symptoms has emerged since that time, its symptoms including diarrhea. The outbreak of the mutated version of the disease has doctors baffled.In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamed, a medical doctor, predicted more outbreaks of potentially new viruses.
According to Mohamed, “In the future there will be more SARS-like diseases due to mutation of bacteria and viruses.”
Presently China is the staging area of the SARS virus and its mutations. However, in the United States thousands of customs inspectors have been trained to spot SARS symptoms and are ordered to detain those who exhibit symptoms as part of an attempt to prevent a U.S. outbreak.According to new estimates, less than one percent of patients aged 24 or younger die, six percent for those aged 25 to 44, 15 percent for those aged 45 to 64 and more than 50 percent for those aged over 65.The SARS outbreak has spread to over 30 countries with some 16,000 people quarantined in China.
ABC Online reported SARS could be a biological weapon because Nikolai Filatov, head of Moscow’s epidemiological services, told the Gazeta Daily that he thought the new, unidentified pneumonia was man-made. He stated, “There is no vaccine for this virus, its make-up is unclear, it has not been very widespread and the population is not immune to it.”
According to Academy of Medicine member Sergei Kolesnikov, SARS is a cocktail of mumps and measles, whose mix could never appear in nature. “We can only get that in a laboratory,” he said during a conference.
The SARS epidemic, although it has spread worldwide, has shown China’s instability; it is only country severely threatened thus far. Current travel advice from W.H.O recommends people consider postponing all but essential travel to Asia.
The University of California at Berkeley reported that it would not accept summer students from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Singapore because of concerns about the disease. Federal health officials identified three people infected with SARS in Australia that had previously traveled to infected countries in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, The New York Times claimed the spreading of SARS has had an enormous effect upon several nations due to inept reporting of the epidemic by Chinese officials. Chinese officials said the outbreak had killed only five people and that it had been snuffed out in the province of Guandong. Later they said it had been caused by mycoplasma, then by chlamydia.
The officials stopped responding and forbade doctors to respond to questions regarding the numbers. It wasn’t until April 20, when China’s health minister was fired, that the true scope of the epidemic emerged.”World Health Organization did a fantastic job,” said Dr. Jack Woodall, the moderator of ProMed, the Federation of American Scientists’ Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, which as early as February 10 posted an alert about the then unidentified SARS outbreak in China.Investigators believed as late as mid-March that China was secretly and stoically fighting a new bird strain, possibly one as lethal as the swine strain then called “Spanish flu,” that killed more than 25 million people in 1918 and 1919.