The Summer of SARS Essay

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The Summer of SARS

As far as I could recollect, every summer my family would travel back to Taiwan as my parents' way of paying homage to Taiwan and to immerse me and my sister in our culture and heritage. The summer of 2003 would have been just another summer spent on an over-heated and over-populated island with family and friends except for the introduction of a new viral respiratory illness named SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It was first recognized on February 26th 2003 in Hanoi and its main symptoms and signs included high fever of over 38? Celsius, dry cough, and shortness of breath.1 At the time, my family assumed that, whatever this new disease was, it was contained within Southeast Asia and its effects would
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The WHO Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network coordinated an international multi-center effort to identify the causative agent in mid-March. The project united 11 laboratories in 10 countries.3 A couple days later, the research on SARS was focused on the paramyxoviridae family of viruses which seemed to be related.4 Researchers and laboratories had also been able to successfully grow, in a cell culture, an infectious agent which might be the cause of SARS.5 However, all these exciting discoveries failed to pinpoint the exact identity of the causative agent and to find a quick cure for the swiftly spreading illness.

Due to all the uncertainties associated with SARS, the WHO began advising against travel to heavily infected areas, including Taiwan.6 However, my parents decided against the advice and we boarded the plane towards SARS. In preparation for the trip, bought boxes after boxes of facemasks, gloves, antibacterial soap, alcohol based hand-rubs and instant hand sanitizers to prevent against close-contact with SARS. We were warned by our family in Taiwan that there has been a slight shortage in these items in Asia and the price for masks has tripled to quadrupled since March! Upon arrival in Taiwan, anxiety kicked in and we began to wonder if we made the right decision traveling during this time of crisis.

Of course, we were not the only anxious people. The whole of Taiwan was alarmed by this new illness called SARS thus

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