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PH 101 Public Health- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Select a pandemic infection in recent history (e.g. H1N1, SARS) and evaluate how that outbreak was handled. What did responders do that went well and what went poorly? Were there any lessons learned? What have you learned from the event?

Answer

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

SARS is a severe type of pneumonia caused by a virus. The virus causes severe respiratory suffering (breathing difficulties) and even death. The virus is airborne which means that it is spread the same way as the flu and cold virus. Saliva droplets spread SARS. When the infected individual sneezes or coughs into the air and another person breathes or is exposed to the saliva droplets, they to become infected. Because of this factor, containing the spread of the virus posed major challenges, however, adequate measures were put in place to contain the spread. Discussed below are some of the steps deployed to contain the virus.

How the SARS Outbreak was handled

What Responders Did that went well


Include Early Identification

The responders identified probable cases and suspects of the disease so that they can be isolated and receive treatment. One of the ways the responders achieved this is by providing adequate information to the public on the symptoms that they were to look out for in order to seek urgent medical attention. It was imperative that the public understood that they have contacted the virus if they have been close contact with an infected person. Further, the healthcare providers were notified of the assessment of SARS cases through circulars and MedAlert systems. Regular updates were provided to all the healthcare providers and hospitals on how to help control the SARS cases (Yuen, 2017).

Patient Isolation

All the patients with the virus and the people suspected of being infected were taken into isolation room where they were to receive treatment. In addition, special facilities were set aside where only the patients with the virus were to receive treatment.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing of all the SARS cases was done in order to separate the infected from the public. The contacts with the symptoms of the virus were referred to special rooms in isolation for evaluation. In isolation, if the patients were assessed to be probable case or suspects of the virus, they were admitted in isolated rooms for observation. In addition, if the contacts developed a cough or fever, they were instructed to seek treatment (Ling, Wong & Tsui, 2017).

Reducing the Number of SARS Cases

Besides the measures done to detect and prevent the spread of the virus, the responders advised the public not to travel to places that were hit with the virus like Hanoi and Hong Kong unless extremely necessary. Moreover, a travel advisory was provided to travelers. The advisories gave a clear explanation of the SARS symptoms advising the travelers who developed the symptoms to seek immediate medical attention (Kindler & Thiel, 2016).

Laboratory Examination

Another imperative strategy employed by the responders is to conduct a laboratory investigation in order to identify the cause of SARS. To date, all the tests conducted to detect the causative agent are all negative. The respondents worked closely with the World health Organization and the specimens sent the lab in the US for laboratory examinations.

Infection Management Measures in Hospitals

Strict infection management procedures were placed around the patients to help control the spread of the virus. Hospitals allowed only family members to visit the sick patients. Before entering the rooms, the hospital staff and the family members had to observe infection management procedures when entering the room or before meeting the patients. Some of the procedure included wearing facemasks, gloves, gowns, and thorough hand washing. Further, all emergency departments in hospitals implemented the procedures for screening the suspected cases of the virus. All the suspected cases were handled separately in different rooms from the other patients. In cases where the suspects were proofed to be probable, they were transferred to the CDC for admission and specialized treatment. Additional facilities were also created in hospitals; the facilities included isolation wards and rooms in case the number of the victims increased (Aibardas and Heymann, 2017).

What was not done properly

The first thing the responders never did properly is the nature and form of communication whereby there was no proper coordination between the responders, which heightened the spread of the virus. Second, the responders failed to report correctly on the precise statistic of SARS cases in their areas because of their personal interests to protect their economies. Finally, the responders never acted promptly to SARS cases, which led to an increase of the SARS cases (Hsu, Chen, Wei, Yang & Chen, 2017).

The Lessons Learnt from the SARS Outbreak

The first lesson concerns the need to report, quickly and transparently, instances of any disease with the likelihood of a global spread. Attempts to cover instances of an infectious ailment, because of fear of social and economic outcomes must be perceived as a fleeting stop-hole measure that pays a high price. The price includes human suffering and death, loss of validity in the global community, heightening the negative household monetary effect, and harm to the wellbeing and economies of neighboring nations. During the World Health Assembly in May 2003 on the determination of the International Health Regulations, WHO has been affirmed in its duty to coordinate the battle against any infectious disease that threatens global health. When it comes to SARS, all nations are encouraged to report cases expeditiously and straightforwardly and to give data asked for by WHO that could help avert global spread (Heymann, 2017).

The second lesson is firmly related: convenient worldwide alarms, particularly when generally supported by a dependable press and functional communication to bring issues to light and carefulness to levels that can avert imported instances of rising infections from creating critical outbreaks. The worldwide alarms issued by WHO on 12 and 15 March gave an unmistakable line of boundary between territories with serious SARS episodes and those with none or just a couple of auxiliary cases. Taking after the SARS alarms, all zones encountering imported cases either kept any further transmission or kept the quantity of privately transmitted cases low. An atmosphere of expanded mindfulness additionally clarifies the speed with which creating nations prepared their wellbeing administrations with readiness arranges and propelled SARS battles, regularly with WHO support, to make preparations for the imported case (Abubakar, Rangaka & Lipman, 2016).

References

Abubakar, I., Rangaka, M. X., & Lipman, M. (2016). Investigating emerging infectious diseases. Infectious Disease Epidemiology, 87.

Aibardas and Heymann,. (2017). Global Health Security: The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.

Hsu, Y. C., Chen, Y. L., Wei, H. N., Yang, Y. W., & Chen, Y. H. (2017). Risk and Outbreak Communication: Lessons from Taiwans Experiences in the Post-SARS Era. Health security, 15(2), 165-169.

Heymann, D. L. (2017). Global Health Security: The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network.

Kindler, E., & Thiel, V. (2016). SARS-CoV and IFN: Too Little, Too Late. Cell host & microbe, 19(2), 139-141.

Ling, M. H., Wong, S. Y., & Tsui, K. L. (2017). Efficient heterogeneous sampling for stochastic simulation with an illustration in health care applications. Communications in Statistics-Simulation and Computation, 46(1), 631-639.

Yang, S., Wu, J., Ding, C., Cui, Y., Zhou, Y., Li, Y., ... & Ruan, B. (2017). Epidemiological features of and changes in incidence of infectious diseases in China in the first decade after the SARS outbreak: an observational trend study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Yuen, K. N. R. (2017). Fukushima and SARS: what is the obligation and duty of a doctor.

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