This is a detailed essay about the new emergence of SARS. The history, the physiology, the symptoms, and the treatment are discussed.

Essay by jaz_e24High School, 12th gradeA, January 2004

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It was on a farm somewhere in southern China where the mystery pneumonia we know as SARS probably began. Once in the cities, the virus spread, thanks to air travel, is now a flaring epidemic in more than a dozen countries.

SARS, which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is the name of a potentially fatal new respiratory disease only recently recognized by scientists. It is not the name of the microorganism that causes the disease - this is suspected to be a virus, although exactly which one is still uncertain.

Dr Carlo Urbani, an infectious disease specialist for the World Health Organization who directed public health programs in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, first identified the disease. Based in Hanoi, the 46-year-old Italian epidemiologist was called in after a visiting Chinese-American businessman, Johnny Cheng, became gravely ill and the disease mystified Vietnamese doctors.

Urbani visited the man at the French Hospital in Hanoi on 26 February 2003 and, over the next week, took many samples.

The disease looked like pneumonia - an acute disease marked by inflammation of the lungs and usually caused by bacteria, viruses or occasionally by chemical irritants. But the 48-year-old patient also had a high fever, cough, shortness of breath and other symptoms that suggested something else. Despite intensive care, Cheng eventually died - but not before he had infected 33 hospital staff and Urbani himself, who finally succumbed to the respiratory disease a month later. All of Vietnam's 62 cases can be traced to the businessman, who had arrived from Hong Kong only three days before being admitted to the hospital.

Soon, other cases emerged in Hong Kong, and World Health Organization (WHO) officials began to suspect the disease might be linked to sporadic reports from the Guangdong province of southern China in early...