The coronaviruses belong to an unusual family of viruses, which are broadly distributed throughout the world, although they infect fewer than one hundred people in the entire world every year. The coronaviruses are spread through contact with an object contaminated with the virus; they can then multiply inside the body of the infected person, causing serious health problems. They are not life-threatening and are often easily treated.
The most common case of infection is SARS-CoV-2, which causes the SARS virus to attack the immune system. This virus is transmitted from animal to human, and is believed to have been responsible for about eighty per cent of the cases of SARS. Older people with weak immune systems appear to be particularly at risk for getting SARS-CoV2, as do those with HIV or people who are genetically prone to it. The virus has also been found in animals, but it is not known whether these animals are also being infected by it.
The symptoms of SARS-CoV2 include fever, cough and chest pain, along with difficulty breathing and coughing that seems to get worse. In some people, the sufferer will experience symptoms of pneumonia and respiratory failure. Some people will also develop serious abdominal or liver problems, but the majority of people with SARS will not suffer from any of these complications. In some people, the virus may also cause hearing loss, vision damage or seizures.
SARS is the biggest health problem in history, and it has a high mortality rate. Only about twenty per cent of cases result in death. It was caused primarily by the spread of the virus to humans. Although SARS has been contained in China, the other countries in Asia where it first appeared have not yet been completely free of the virus.
Because of the high risk of contracting SARS-CoV2, most travellers to areas with widespread SARS outbreaks are required to have a certain level of protection when they travel internationally. If a patient has not had a SARS vaccination before, they are strongly advised to do so as soon as possible, especially if they had recently visited an area where SARS cases have been reported. This vaccine is available to anyone who has recently visited an area where SARS cases have been reported. or has had close contact with an infected person, such as close contact with the body fluids of a person with SARS. Anyone travelling abroad who has not had a full immunisation against SARS will also need to ensure they have had two booster doses of this vaccine before they leave their country.
If a person does contract SARS and is treated, they will be given medical treatment, which could range from symptomatic treatments, such as antibiotics and decongestants, to surgical procedures. If the treatment does not cure the virus, they will then need to be monitored closely to ensure they do not become re-infected. There are no vaccines currently available for preventing the virus from reproducing, but there are medicines available that can slow its progress. This includes the anti-parainfluenza drugs known as AZT.
Many people who develop the disease don’t even realise that they are infected until they start to see symptoms. If they do not seek medical help, they will become extremely ill with a wide variety of illnesses including fever, chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath, as well as stomach pains and vomiting. If you think you may have the condition, it’s important to contact your doctor immediately, as the longer you wait, the more likely it is that you’ll be left untreated. Treatment involves using medication to try to get rid of the virus. It is usually taken orally or intravenously.
People with good health, including those with no history of serious illness, should be vaccinated against SARS. This is because the virus tends to attack the respiratory system, particularly the lungs. Those with a weaker immune system, such as infants, elderly people and the elderly are at the highest risk of developing this illness.