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Clarifying Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) With Your Doctor – Five Questions to Ask

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If you have been diagnosed with severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, you may wish to go over the following questions with your physician:

1. With so much media hype on SARS, can I get the real picture on what this disease is?
SARS is a highly contagious and deadly disease of the human respiratory system brought on by the combination of the Coronavirus (a large group of virus causing common colds) family and the Paramyxovirus family (another group of virus that causes mumps and measles). This combination virus that causes SARS is termed as SARS-CoV (SARS-Coronavirus). During normal times, SARS exists in the nominal population.

2. What symptoms should I be wary of during this season?
Symptoms of SARS are often life-threatening with high fevers accompanied with chills and shivering. Other symptoms will include any or some of the following:
• Dry cough or sputum cough
• Cold
• Sore throat
• Muscle pain and body ache (myalgia)
• Headache
• Nausea and vomiting
• Dizziness
• Diarrhea
• Fatigue
• Shortness of breath

Research has shown that the body’s own immune system over-reacts to SARS-CoV causing more damage.

3. What diagnostic tests are available for screening?
Confirmatory diagnosis is done through a combination of tests. However, the easiest and sure method is prescribing a chest X-ray at the beginning of diagnostic procedures. In addition, blood clotting tests and those checking blood chemistry are also performed. Blood chemistry tests will include alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and (creatine phosphokinase) CPK checks along with checks on Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), white blood cell count, platelet count and lymphocyte counts. In combination and reading the results together and in relation to other test results gives a complete and confirmatory diagnosis of SARS in usual times, since there is no pathognomonic appearance of SARS. Of late, some more tests have been added to arrive at conclusive results. There are also the cumbersome Immunofluoroscence tests and the PCR (polymerase Chain Reaction) tests that detect the presence of genetic material of the SARS virus from any body fluid

4. What is the ELISA, we so often hear about?
The ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test detects antibodies to SARS.

5. What should I be knowing about its ability to be contagious and spread?
It is important to note that SARS spreads through air, body fluids, etc., so casual or sexual contact with an infected person can cause SARS in the other person. Also, keep in mind that if a SARS-infected person sneezes or coughs without covering his or her mouth, the dispersed droplets in the air carrying the germs can come in contact with a healthy person and infect them. The SARS virus can survive on solid surfaces including on the human skin for up to three hours to even four days beyond drying up of the infected droplets. The newly infected person may show symptoms anywhere from three to ten days after contracting the SARS-CoV. At below freezing climates, the SARS-CoV survives for years until it gets a suitable environment to spread again.


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co.) and the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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