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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - SARS

What is SARS? 

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is caused by an unknown virus, most likely a new species similar to coronavirus which causes common cold. SARS has been discovered in 17 countries with more than 1800 cases. many hundreds have died from the disease which is rapidly becoming epidemic. Most cases were discovered in Honk Kong and Southern China. Out of desperation, the Hong Kong Health authority and physicians are treating patients with a cocktail of powerful antiviral drug and steroids. SARS causes inflammation in the lung making breathing difficult. Steroids help fight the inflammation but they can also weaken the body's immune system. China health authority is cooperating with UN and other nations in sharing data and allowing investigation teams to visit the area where the first outbreak occurred. 

What is the US Official Statement?

Ms Julie Gerberding, Director of the Center of Disease Control (CDC) has published a short  paper through the New England Journal of Medicine which can be viewed by logging into MWSearch. On March 24th, 2003, scientists at CDC and in Hong Kong have announced that a new coronavirus has been isolated from patients owith SARS. However, coronavirus has not been proven to be the cause of SARS. The collaboration of many health and medical institutions are fast and information are shared through a secured web site but the disease is spreading rapidly. Hence, the scientists must work even faster to come up with answers then perhaps cure or prevention of the disease. The WHO, CDC and national and local health agencies across the globe are disseminating up-to-the minute information to the clinicians, health organizations, public health officials, health case workers, travelers and many affected parties. Naturally, one should take precaution and seek the advice from one's doctor. 


The rapid spread of SARS presents a global challenge to us. (see cases and death reported in reference 5)  It also signifies that as a citizen of the global village, everyone is vulnerable to epidemic diseases. The cooperation of all national and global health organizations is paramount in finding the answer, the treatment and the effective prevention methods to SARS. We hope that solutions will be found soon. In the following, we are providing a number of relevant references for those who are interested in getting more knowledge about SARS related viral diseases.


1. Julie Louise Gerbeding, M. D. M. P. H.
2. MWSearch Expansion on coronavirus: 

Synonyms and more specific terms added to query: Coronavirus; Coronavirus, Bovine; Coronavirus, Canine; Gastroenteritis Virus, Porcine Transmissible; Coronavirus, Human; Coronavirus, Rat; Infectious Bronchitis Virus, Avian; Coronavirus, Turkey; Infectious Peritonitis Virus, Feline; Gastroenteritis Virus, Murine

3. Coronavirus:

4. ribavarin ingradients used in the Hong Kong Cocktail:

5. Cases reported so far: China 1190 death 46, Hong Kong 708, death 16, Singapore 98, death 4, Vietnam, 59, death 4, Taiwan 13, death 0, Australia 1, death 0, Canada 129, death 6, US 85, death 0, Europe 18, death 0.

6. Major Outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong, Nelson et al (14 authors), A technical report with X-ray diagnosis images Full Paper accessible by logging into MWSearch.

Written by Ifay Chang, Ph.D. on April 3rd, 2003

Information about the Author

Dr. Chang is the co-founder of Medical World Search which offers an intelligent medical search engine, called MWSearch. MWSearch is an independent search service without affiliation with any healthcare organization or drug companies. Medical World Search ( ) has been offered for public use since 1996.

In early 90's, while working as a research scientist at IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Dr. Chang led a group of researchers developing an advanced clinic information system with the purpose of supporting an efficient and reliable healthcare practice. The system has been adopted by Kaiser Permanente and other healthcare organizations.

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