What is SARS?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome.
We seem to be under constant attack from respiratory diseases. Unfortunately in most cases, respiratory diseases are something we as humans have caused. Right now everyone is focused on COVID-19. Let us not forget the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed 40 to 50 million people worldwide. Right now we are heading into the flu/influenza season. This combined with COVID-19 is pretty scary and we really need to protect ourselves.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a contagious and sometimes fatal respiratory illness. SARS first appeared in China in November 2002. Within a few months, SARS spread worldwide, carried by unsuspecting travelers.
In November 2002, doctors in the Guangdong province of southeastern China began to see the first cases of what would become known as SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Over the next several months, 8,096 people in 26 countries contracted the new viral illness, leading to 774 deaths. Although the slow reporting of initial SARS cases helped the illness spread, globally enforced medical practices eventually helped end the outbreak.
SARS showed how quickly infection can spread in a highly mobile and interconnected world. On the other hand, a collaborative international effort allowed health experts to quickly contain the spread of the disease. There has been no known transmission of SARS anywhere in the world since 2004.
The coronavirus SARS-CoV causes SARS. A coronavirus is a common form of a virus that typically leads to upper respiratory tract illnesses, including the common cold.
Seven different kinds of coronavirus can infect humans. Four of these are common, and most people will experience at least one of them during their life.
The three other coronaviruses cause:
- Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)
The three most recent coronaviruses have all emerged since 2002 and are more likely to be life-threatening than the previous ones.
How is SARS spread?
Experts believe that coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV, spread through close human contact and in droplets from coughing and sneezing. The viruses may be airborne or travel in ways that scientists do not yet know about.
The body likely absorbs the respiratory droplets through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and eyes.
Ways of transmitting the virus may include:
- hugging and kissing
- sharing utensils for eating and drinking
- speaking to others within a distance of 3 feet
- touching someone directly
If droplets from one person land on an object such as a door handle or a telephone, someone else can pick up the virus if they touch these items.
In 2015, scientists found evidence that SARS-CoV might survive on a dry surface for extended periods, possibly for several months.
SARS was a zoonotic disease, meaning it was of animal origin but passed on to humans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that 75% of emerging infectious diseases come from animals, including rabies and Ebola. Most zoonotic diseases originate in wild animals rather than pets or domestic animals.
Some animals can carry a virus without becoming sick because their bodies are accustomed to the virus. This fact means they are likely to have immunity.
Viruses can change, however. If a virus changes through contact with another type of animal, it can become unpredictable and possibly dangerous.
When a new virus first emerges, people do not have immunity. In time, the immune system develops antibodies for the new virus, and these antibodies equip it to fight the resulting disease.
When swine flu (H1N1) first appeared in 2009, for example, there were concerns that a pandemic could develop. Now, it is one of the seasonal flu strains that pharmacists include in the annual flu vaccine. Many people also have immunity to H1N1.
In 2019, a new coronavirus, which scientists identified as SARS-CoV-2, began making people sick in China. This is the virus causing the current COVID-19 pandemic.
SARS symptoms are similar to those of the flu, including:
- fever over 100.4°F
- dry cough
- sore throat
- problems breathing, including shortness of breath
- body aches
- loss of appetite
- night sweats and chills
Breathing issues will appear within two to 10 days after a person is exposed to the virus. Health officials will quarantine a person who presents the above symptoms and family members if they have a history of foreign travel. The person will be quarantined for 10 days to prevent the virus from spreading.
When SARS was occurring, its symptoms appeared 2–7 days after a person was exposed to the virus, but they could also take up to 10 days.
The first symptom was a high fever of more than 100.4°F (38.0°C). Other mild respiratory symptoms were similar to those of flu.
Other early symptoms included:
These symptoms developed over the course of 7 days.
After 7–10 days, the person might then have noticed:
- a dry cough
- shortness of breath
- Low oxygen levels in the body known as hypoxia
Most people with SARS developed pneumonia while some had long-term damage to their liver, kidneys, and lungs.
These complications were more likely in those more than 60 years of age, and most people with SARS made a full recovery.
To diagnose SARS, a doctor would ask the individual about symptoms and carry out a physical examination. They would likely ask whether the person had recently spent time in an area where SARS was present or taken care of a person with SARS.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), for a diagnosis of SARS, a person must have all the following:
- a fever of at least 100.4°F (38°C)
- one or more symptoms of lower respiratory tract illness, such as cough, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
- radiographic evidence to suggest pneumonia
- no alternative diagnosis to explain the illness
When it was occurring, SARS was rare, and the symptoms overlapped with those of the flu and pneumonia.
It would only be possible for a person to have SARS if there was a current outbreak, and they had been to an area where the illness was occurring. At the time of writing, there have been no reports of SARS since 2004.
Laboratory tests can help identify SARS-CoV.
- blood tests
- stool tests
- tests of nasal secretions
- imaging tests to detect pneumonia
These tests might not be reliable during the early stages of infection.
SARS is a reportable disease and a medical emergency.
During the 2003 outbreak, people with SARS in the U.S. did not need to enter quarantine. The WHO recommended isolating patients and using barrier techniques to prevent the spread of the virus, including filter masks and goggles.
No drugs, including antibiotics, appeared to be effective against SARS. Instead, healthcare providers offered supportive care, including the use of medications to relieve symptoms, such as fever and cough. In the hospital, some people needed a ventilator to help them breathe.
As with other infectious diseases, some simple steps would help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV if it were to occur again.
- washing hands frequently or cleaning with an alcohol-based detergent
- Avoiding touching the eyes, mouth, and nose with unclean hands
- covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- avoiding sharing food, drinks, and utensils
- staying at least 3 feet away from other people
- Regularly cleaning surfaces with disinfectant
Similarly, anyone with symptoms of SARS would limit interaction with other people until 10 days after their symptoms improve.
SARS appeared to be contagious only after symptoms emerged, and it was most likely to spread during the second week of illness, according to the CDC.
A SARS outbreak occurred in 2002–2003. It resulted from SARS-CoV, a coronavirus related to the virus responsible for the current COVID-19 pandemic.
When the outbreak occurred, health authorities acted quickly and were able to prevent widespread disease. Since 2004, there have been no recorded cases of SARS anywhere in the world.
There is currently no cure for SARS and no vaccine against SARS-CoV, but scientists have continued to investigate.
Along with any respiratory disease, it is up to us to take preventable measures to avoid getting these diseases. The protocol is very similar.
The Bottom Line
COVID-19 and SARS are both caused by coronaviruses. The viruses that cause these illnesses likely originated in animals before they were transmitted to humans by an intermediate host.
There are many similarities between COVID-19 and SARS. However, there are also important differences. COVID-19 cases can range from mild to severe, while SARS cases, in general, were more severe. But COVID-19 spreads more easily. There are also some differences in the symptoms between the two illnesses.
There hasn’t been a documented case of SARS since 2004, as strict public health measures were implemented to contain its spread. COVID-19 may be more challenging to contain because the virus that causes this disease spreads more easily and often causes mild symptoms.
Home Remedies and Supplements to Aid Prevention
1) VITAMIN D – Vitamin D deficiency is likely responsible for the high incidences of colds and cases of flu during winter in Canada. By nature, vitamin D is anti-inflammatory. Deficiency causes immune system weakness and chronic inflammation. For prevention, supplementing with 5,000 – 10,000 IU daily from October to May of each year is safe for most adults. It is effective for the prevention of flu, colds, cancer, and approximately 200 different diseases.
Humans manufacture their own antibiotics through vitamin D stimulation. Vitamin D promotes the production of cathelicidin, a protein with natural antibiotic properties. Cathelicidin kills viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. The more vitamin D in the system, the more the body makes this antibiotic.
For those unfortunate enough to get the ’flu or any viral illness, Dr. John Cannell of the Vitamin D Council recommends taking 50,000 IU daily of vitamin D at the first sign of the ’flu for 5 days, then dropping the level down to 5 – 10,000 IU daily for the winter season.
This strategy can also be employed if you get the ’flu or a cold right after receiving the ’flu shot. (Most conventional doctors do not believe that you can get the ’flu after a ’flu shot. Then again, most conventional doctors continue to ignore the overwhelming evidence that vitamin D prevents infection.)
In any event, vitamin D is both a great prevention and effective treatment for colds, flu, and probably many other infections. World authorities on vitamin D verify that up to 30,000 IU daily for a healthy adult is quite safe and that periodic higher doses (50,000 IU daily for 5 days) are also of no concern.
Vitamin D works even better if taken with vitamin K2. Both are anti-inflammatory and can prevent as well as treat infections successfully.
2) VITAMIN A – is often deficient in the Canadian population, especially in people with problems absorbing fat-soluble vitamins from food. Vitamin A is not only vital for healthy vision but also important for viral illness prevention. Dr. David Brownstein recommends that healthy people take 5,000 IU daily, and 100,000 IU daily for four days at the first sign of illness. This is not a recommended dose for pregnant women who should just stick with a good prenatal multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. Be sure to take vitamin A, not beta-carotene (which won’t work for this purpose).
3) IODINE – is a tremendously important mineral for optimal immune system functioning. Most people know iodine is important for thyroid function but few know that there is no bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite known to be resistant to iodine. To have an antiviral effect, one must take doses much higher than the RDA. Dr. David Brownstein, who has written a book on the therapeutic uses of iodine, recommends taking 25 mg daily for prevention and 50 – 100 mg daily at the first sign of illness.
You will need a prescription for these higher doses but you can easily get iodine from fish, seafood, kelp, dulse, and other seaweed options. Kelp, sea salt, or dulse powder can be sprinkled on food for added iodine. Avoid the high prescription doses if you suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis because it may make the condition worse.
4) VITAMIN C (ASCORBIC ACID) – 1,000 mg or more daily has antiviral and immune-enhancing effects. Megadoses above and beyond bowel tolerance (i.e. dose that produces diarrhea) can be given intravenously to fight serious infections like Lyme disease as well as cancer. In cases of pneumonia, the IV form may be the best way to fight the infection and avoid the diarrhea side effects. The scientific support for this use of vitamin C is very well documented, and only the uninformed and out-of-date doctors believe it to be otherwise.
5) PROBIOTICS (lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and numerous others) – are friendly bacteria that usually inhabit the gut, the oral cavity, and the skin. They are very well-documented optimizers of the immune system. Probiotics function as natural antibiotics against unfriendly bacteria, viruses like the ’flu and cold virus, as well as yeast like Candida albicans. Probiotics can also be used for both prevention and treatment.
6) OIL OF OREGANO – 2 to 4 drops, 3 times daily, is an effective natural antibiotic for numerous infectious diseases, including those that are proven to be resistant to prescription antibiotics. Oregano oil contains carvacrol, a phenol shown to stop the growth of multiple bacteria. It also contains thymol (a natural antifungal) and rosmarinic acid (a powerful antioxidant).
Side effects are rarely if ever, seen and the spicy taste can be offset by mixing it with olive oil, foods, or beverages. For sinus and nasal infections, one can inhale vapors from a bottle of oregano oil several times daily to reduce or eliminate symptoms. If using high doses of oregano, make sure to take it at least two hours away from probiotic supplements.
7) BLACK SEED OIL – It is often said that black seed oil will cure anything except death. Its best use would be for viral infection complications such as pneumonia when combined with intravenous vitamin C infusions. Black seed oil comes from the medicinal plant Nigella sativa (N. Sativa) which has been used in various traditional systems of medicine like Unani and Tibb, Ayurveda, and Siddha.
The list of diseases or health conditions that it is purported to help run into the hundreds. Most of the benefits have yet to be proven by clinical trials. Nonetheless, many scientific studies have been published supporting the use of black seed oil as a natural antibiotic.
8) CURCUMIN – An extract of turmeric, curcumin has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic activity. It is well known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects as well as its anti-cancer benefits. Curcumin is a stronger antifungal than most prescription antifungals. One study showed it to be superior to fluconazole, an effective but expensive antifungal.
If you are on a prescription antibiotic, fungal infections can be one of the side effects. So, curcumin and probiotics could be very good things to take to prevent candida or fungal infections of other kinds. Doses are variable depending on the infection and the individual.
9) SILVER HYDROSOL – This form of colloidal silver is effective against numerous viruses and harmful microbes. Be careful with taking colloidal silver in amounts higher than 23 ppm for extended periods of time. Higher non-nanoparticle-sized amounts could accumulate in the system causing blue skin discoloration. Small particle sizes of colloidal silver (10 to 20 ppm) are generally safe and effective for many different types of infections, especially those resistant to prescription antibiotics.
Please take the necessary precautions and follow the protocols set in place to ensure your safety and health. Prevention is key to these diseases.
Thank you for reading.
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