The possibility of an environmental and global outbreak of a deadly virus is steadily increasing as multiple factors of human population, methods and practice of medicine, and economic conditions of both developed and developing nations continue to change over a period of time. The history of many civilizations has been shaped or affected by the outbreak of a disease that as the Eastern and Western Hemisphere have witnessed the effects of an outbreak on a unprepared nation. The focus of this paper will be central on an outbreak of the SARS virus because an outbreak occurred ten years ago yet the probability of another epidemic should not be ignored by those in medicine.
SARS, which is abbreviated for severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a viral respiratory illness that is caused by the coronavirus. It closely resembles the symptoms of pneumonia but at a higher level of infection and it is known to cause difficulty in breathing and death in some cases as well. The identification or discovery of this virus correlates with the communication of the virus because a businessman was diagnosed with SARS after traveling from Hong Kong, China to Hanoi, Vietnam. It is unfortunate that the businessman, including the doctor that performed the diagnosis, died from the illness and the SARS virus was spreading rapidly in other nations during the discovery of the virus. The World Health Organization eventually identified SARS as a global epidemic and issued a travel advisory. Due to the efforts of the World Health Organization, the number of cases decreased to a level that did not require daily updates or reports from the organization. However, the outbreak changed the methods of response to a virus and eight thousand cases was the estimate of those that were victims of the outbreak.
The key principles in not only halting the spread of an outbreak but the prevention of a future outbreak relies on proper diagnosis of the symptoms and understanding of the spread of the SARs virus. SARS is a member of the family of viruses that causes the common cold so the spread of the virus is conjunction with the similar symptoms of a common cold. SARS is spread through either coughs or sneezes because infected droplets are released into the air and therefore can be transmitted through tough or breathing in the infected particles. It is able to live tissues, hands, and other various surface with a time period of up to six hours in the present droplets while it is only up to three hours after the droplets have dried on the surface. Therefore, symptoms of the SARS virus normally occur on average between two and ten days after exposure to the virus so it is quite contagious.
Some symptoms of the SARS are of the following: difficulty breathing, fever greater than 100.4 degrees, muscle aches, chills or shaking, and coughing that occurs approximately three days after the initial symptoms. A recovery from a fever does not necessarily identify with the remission of the virus because lung symptoms sometimes worsen after the fever is no longer there. The SARS outbreak 2003 affected countless people around the world and yet it could spark again and even affect my community due to many that are unaware of this virus. Since the symptoms closely resemble those of a common cold, the community should be proactive in hygiene and consistently informing others about such a probable outbreak. A scenario which involves the reporting of an outbreak in a community setting is described in the next paragraph.
A community nurse, which suspects that the SARS virus has been contracted through a family, should apply the appropriate steps in reporting an outbreak. The first step is the accurate and rapid identification of the virus so it is no longer a suspicion but a confirmation that it is the SARS virus. The recommended series of testing to diagnose for SARS should include blood clotting tests, blood chemistry tests, arterial blood tests, and a chest x-ray scan while testing such as antibody tests are done to rapidly identify the coronavirus which causes SARS. However, all of these types of testing are limited and may not be capable of providing results that are necessary to accurately identify SARS in a patient within the first week of the illness which is most critical.
After SARS is confirmed, the local health authority will be notified of the presence of SARS in its jurisdiction and the data of the outbreak is sent to the district and state levels for further collection purposes. The national level is finally reached and the World Health Organization is eventually notified of an outbreak on a national level because of travel that is has contributed to the spread of the SARS virus. A community nurse can greatly assist in the prevention of an outbreak by accurate identification of SARS and timely reporting of the virus to the relative health authorities. Since the SARs virus spreads through infected droplets by either sneezing or coughing, it is important the air quality of health care facilities is sufficient.
The air quality has a direct effect on the probability of infection from the SARS virus so a community nurse should schedule bi-weekly tests on the quality of the air in a health care facility or home. As mentioned earlier, the common symptoms of the SARS virus includes infected droplets that are dispensed in air through the means of coughing or sneezing so a routine check on the quality of air could increase the safety of the clients. The individuals with respiratory conditions should receive extreme care because the conditions should not be subject to worsen as a result of poor air but improve because of healthy air.
A SARS virus outbreak is probable of occurring again in the world and timely reporting with correct diagnosis can make a major difference between a small scale infection and a worldwide epidemic. The cooperation between health care facilities and the health authorities is important because it places emphasis on the community to be aware of potential outbreaks.