CBC In Depth
A Chinese disease control and prevention expert holds samples extracted from civet cats at a wildlife market in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Monday, Jan. 5, 2004. China confirmed that its first SARS case since an outbreak of the disease was contained in July, 2003 and authorities ordered the emergency slaughter of some 10,000 civet cats and related species after tests linked a virus found in the animals to the patient.(AP Photo/Xinhua, Liu Dawei)
INDEPTH: SARS
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
CBC News Online | Updated April 22, 2004

Origin of the crisis:

Health officials declared in July 2003 that the global epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome was over, but in December 2003 and January 2004, China confirmed four new cases of SARS in southern Guangdong province. Those patients recovered, but on April 22, 2004, China confirmed two more suspected cases of the disease, one in Beijing and one in Anhui, a province in eastern China.

The first case of SARS appeared in November 2002. It killed 800 people around the world, including 44 in Toronto. The disease killed 350 in China. That country later ordered the killing of some 10,000 civet cats, suspected to be carriers of SARS. The weasel-like mammals are considered a delicacy in Guangdong and are served in wild-game restaurants.

Investigations and reports:

Two inquiries into the political and medical reaction to the SARS outbreak released reports in April 2004.

On April 20, an interim report by Ontario Justice Archie Campbell's inquiry offered 53 recommendations including the establishment of a provincial centre for disease control. Campbell observed that Ontario's health system had been unable to manage the crisis because it was "broken." The province's medical infrastructure was pushed to its limits and the region's hospitality industry was also paralyzed by of the outbreak.

A day after that report, an independent expert panel on SARS presented another 50 suggestions. The panel observed that local officials, who are the first to observe an infectious outbreak and are best poised to contain it, had the least resources available to them.

Both reports focused on the need to improve public health spending on infectious disease prevention, identification, control and containment – and the importance of clear communication and cooperation among all levels of government and health care providers.

Main Symptoms:
  • High fever (>38 C or 100.4 F);
  • Dry cough;
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties; Changes in chest X-rays indicative of pneumonia also occur;
  • SARS may be associated with other symptoms, including headache, muscular stiffness, loss of appetite, malaise, confusion, rash and diarrhea.
How contagious is SARS?
Based on currently available evidence, close contact with an infected person is needed for the infective agent to spread from one person to another. Contact with aerosolized (exhaled) droplets and bodily secretions from an infected person appears to be important´┐Ż the amount of the infective agent needed to cause an infection has not yet been determined.
Source: The World Health Organization


Backgrounders

The facts:
SARS: Timeline
Total SARS cases

The basics:
SARS: Questions and answers
Dealing with SARS: What should I do?
Face masks: What you should know
Proper handwashing
The mysteries of testing, treatment and transmission
Quick facts on the World Health Organization

Personal stories:
The hospital is on Orange Alert: My visit to the doctor
Diary: A Canadian in Hong Kong: March 31 | April 10 | May 1
Searching for a safe haven from SARS

Pictures:
Virus Lab photogallery: Inside Canada's Level-4 laboratory in Winnipeg
Photogallery: The story of SARS
Photogallery: The Mystery Illness

Public health issues:
Hunting Down SARS
Was Canada ready for SARS?
SARS: implications for public health care

The science:
Civet Cat
SARS Research
Medical journals on SARS
The Flu Epidemic
SARS Epidemiology FAQ

The economy:
The economic impact of SARS

Other:
SARS quotables
SARS headlines




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WEBSITE WINS AWARD:
CBC.ca SARS site wins journalism award
KEY PHONE NUMBERS:
Health Canada's information line:
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B.C. Nurseline:
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EXTERNAL LINKS:
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The SARS (Campbell) Commission

New England Journal of Medicine

Canadian Medical Association

Ontario Ministry of Health Update on SARS

Vancouver SARS page

Hong Kong SARS page

WHO: SARS Outbreak News

World Health Organization travel advisory

Health Canada SARS site

Toronto Public Health's SARS site

Health Canada travel advisory

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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