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Diseases We Need to Know

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(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is a viral respiratory illness by a coronavirus called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-COV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

The SARS outbreak

According to World Health Organization (WHO), during the SARS outbreak of February- July 2003, a total 8,437 people worldwide became sick with SARS; of these 813 died. Most of the U.S. SARS cases were among travellers returning from other parts of the world with SARS.

Symptoms of SARs:

The WHO’s case definition of SARS includes the following: High Fever (above 38C), cough or breathing difficulty and exposures- close contact (having cared for lived with, or had direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids) with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS.




More than 1800 school across Seoul, South Korea was closed down. Many people were asked to quarantine themselves (stay home).

It all began when a 68 years old South Korean man returned from Saudi Arabia, and shortly thereafter, fell ill with a fever and persistence cough. He went between several clinics and hospitals, seeking treatment. By the time his health problems were discovered and he was quarantined, he had spread the virus to medical staff in each of the places.

MERS belong to the Coronavirus family. These viruses are so named for the crown like spikes on the surface.

Coronavirus are the common viruses that most people are infected with at some point in their lives. Human coronaviruses usually cause mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illnesses such as the common cold. Coronaviruses may also infect animals- usually only one animal species or, at most, a small number of closely related species.

Normally flu and other diseases spread only within one types of species. However, there are some contagious illnesses such as MERS and SARS that spread between animals and humans- they are called Zoonotic diseases. While young children, the elderly, and the people with weak immune systems are the most vulnerable, anyone who comes into contact with infected live poultry, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and other domestic and wild animals can fall ill.

Why is South Korea taking such unusual measures? The country was in the midst of a MERS virus (Middle Eastern Respiratory Virus) outbreak, the largest outside Saudi Arabia, where the disease originated. Out of the 87 people who had contracted the deadly virus seven had died.

Scientists believe that the MERS virus jumped from camels to humans in Saudi Arabia three years ago. Rarely, it can also be transmitted by droplets coughed into the air by an infected person as happened in South Korea. For now, there is no vaccine or specific treatment, other than to isolate the patient and address their symptoms. 


The 2014 Ebola outbreak was one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history and the first in West Africa. It affected four countries in West Africa: Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone starting form 2013 December to 2014 August. Suspect and confirmed cases were reported from 13 countries. EBOV reported human virulence: No. of cases- 2,473; Death-1,350; Fatality-64%. Some previous Ebola outbreaks have had death rates up to 90%.

Ebola HF is caused by infection with a virus of the family Filoviridae, genus Ebolavirus. The first Ebolavirus species was discovered in 1976 in what is now the DRC Congo near the Ebola River. Out of five identified subspecies of Ebola virus, four have caused disease in humans: Zaire virus (EBOV); Sudan virus (SUDV); Tai virus (TAFV); and Bundibugyo virus (BDBV). The fifth, Reston virus (RESTV), has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.


Sudden onset of fever greater than 38.6C, intense weakness, muscles pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. The gestation period: 2 to 21 days after exposure to ebola virus, although 8-10 days is most common.

About Saurav Bhola

Saurav Bhola

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