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How Long Did SARS Last In 2003 (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Approximately 8 Months

The world witnessed an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The outbreak started in early 2003 and early 2004. Most of the countries to be affected by the SARS outbreak were the south Asian countries. About 8000 people got affected by SARS and around 800 of them died due to this illness.

How Long Did SARS Last In 2003?

Timeline of SARS outbreak in 2003Time
1st case of SARS was identified onFebruary 26, 2003
Official announcement of outbreak of SARSMarch 23, 2003
End of SARS outbreakMay 2004

On November 16, 2002, the first serious case of acute pneumonia was registered in a Guangdong province region of Southern China. This was the first case to be registered as the initiation of a severe acute respiratory syndrome, however, this case was not the actual case to be considered as the case which initiated the outbreak of sars. 

It was until February 26, 2003, that the first case of ‘unusual pneumonia’ was identified and registered in a city called Hanoi, located in Vietnam. This could be considered as the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which ultimately led to the SARS outbreak.

Two days later, on February 28, 2002, the major officer of the world health organization, Carlo Urbani, examined the ‘unusual pneumonia’ case in one of the French hospitals located within the city of Hanoi, Vietnam.

On March 23, 2003, Carlo Urbani officially announced the outbreak of an unknown illness, also referred to as ‘unusual pneumonia’. He observed that all the people who were affected by the ‘unusual pneumonia’, among which, the major people to be affected were healthcare workers, had reported serious issues in breathing.

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Carlo Urbani identified that the unknown illness or the ‘unusual pneumonia’ was majorly affecting the respiratory system of the people. He then later named this severe acute respiratory syndrome, which is abbreviated as sars.

China, which was not just the origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome, but also the most prominent country to get affected by this illness. In May 2004, China observed no new cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome. 

According to reports of the world health organization, in May 2004, a total number of 189 were treated for severe acute respiratory syndrome and all of them were released out of their quarantine period.

Looking at the condition of China and how it was almost completely recovered from the severe acute respiratory syndrome, the World Health Organization announced China to be free from the SARS outbreak. However, the WHO asked China to continue to maintain all the safety precautions.

Why Did SARS Last That Long In 2003?

Southern China was the place where the first case of acute pneumonia was observed, however that was not considered as the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome. The major reason behind that was because it was just a case of acute pneumonia, and not ‘unusual pneumonia’ as stated by Carlo Urbani.

However, when the case of ‘unusual pneumonia’ was identified for the first time, it was reported in a city of Vietnam, which was most prominently the first case of severe acute respiratory syndrome. Though Vietnam was the first case of SARS, China was considered as the origin of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.

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The major reason behind that is because according to the officers of the world health organization, the illness of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which was initially identified as ‘unusual illness’ was an illness that got developed from acute pneumonia only.

Apart from China, and Vietnam, there were many more countries that struggled through the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak. According to the World Health Organization, there were reportedly about 24 countries that faced the SARS outbreak.

Some of the major countries to face severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreaks, apart from China and Vietnam were Singapore, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Hong Kong was another country after China to get seriously affected by a severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.

Conclusion

By the time the situation of severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak was improving in almost all the countries, the world had lost Carlo Urbani. He was the man who first examined the case of ‘unusual illness’, and named this unknown illness as a severe acute respiratory syndrome. 

References

  1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmed.2020.00225/full
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/nmeth.1505
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