News / Utah / 
Study: SARS Could Have Equalled Influenza of 1918

Study: SARS Could Have Equalled Influenza of 1918

Posted - May 23, 2003 at 9:11 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Ed Yeates reportingSARS infections appear to be dwindling. Singapore has it under control. Hong Kong is getting close; Toronto is there or very close. And so is Hanoi.

But the respiratory disease initially was on its way to virtually shutting everything down.

MATTHEW SAMORE, M.D., CHIEF CLINICAL EPIDEMIOLOGY, U OF U: "IN THE ABSENCE OF CONTROL, THIS VIRUS WOULD HAVE, IN ALL LIKELIHOOD, PRODUCED AN EPIDEMIC LIKE THE INFLUENZA OUTBREAK IN 1918."

Dr. Matthew Samore at the University of Utah co-authored a study with the Harvard School of Public Health.

At the height of its spread, the virus - most likely a new strain of Coronovirus - was potentially more potent than the influenza virus of 1918. And some of those infected remained contagious even 10 days later, after the peak of their illness.

Dr. Samore says Hong Kong's latest discovery of the virus in Chinese wild cats poses an interesting theory since many new influenza-like pathogens show up initially in swine or other animals.

SAMORE: "THERE WERE AN INCREASED NUMBER OF CASES IN CHEFS IN RESTAURANTS. THIS COULD BE A POTENTIAL LINK IF THESE CHEFS WERE PREPARING GAME THAT WAS CONTAMINATED."

Samore and his colleagues say containment, isolation of infected people, and quick responses from most of the affected countries over the past several months have reversed what could have been a major disaster.

ED YEATES, SCIENCE SPECIALIST: "THE STUDY ALSO SUGGESTS THE SARS EXPERIENCE HAS GIVEN DOCTORS A WHOLE NEW WAY TO LOOK AT RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES, ESPECIALLY AS PATIENTS SHOW UP IN EMERGENCY ROOMS."

Don't be surprised this next winter, as flu-like illnesses begin their rounds again, to see tighter controls, more containment, more isolation of patients who come in with unusual or unexplained respiratory infections.

The major study appears in Friday's issue of the journal "Science."

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast