Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Today the CDC is announcing that they think they've isolated the causative agent for SARS - and it's not a paramyxovirus. They think it's a new variant of a coronavirus (a family of viruses that usually causes the common cold).
This illness has spread rapidly. Currently up to 487 cases have been identified worldwide (in 14 countries) with 17 deaths. The death rate so far is running about 3.7 percent, relatively low. Hong Kong has had the most cases. All cases seem to involve either travel to infected areas or direct contact with patients with the illness (several cases seem to have stemmed from one man, a Hong Kong physician infected with the disease, who was staying in a hotel. Several people staying on the same floor of the hotel were infected). Spread into the community at large, however, has not been seen - though it is worrisome to note that a patient in a Toronto ER, in the same holding area as a patient with SARS, got sick and later died.