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We're Safe From the Latest SARS-Like Disease...For the Moment 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-feel-free-to-panic-anyway dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Back in 2002, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS killed about 10 per cent of the 8,000 people it infected in southern China and Hong Kong. The severity of the disease and its high death rate triggered panic in many countries where health agencies worked feverishly to prevent its further spread, largely successfully. Then in September 2012, a virologist working in Saudi Arabia noticed a similar virus in a patient suffering from acute pneumonia and renal failure. Since then, so-called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS has also begun to spread. The World Health Organization says it knows of 63 deaths from only 149 cases, a death rate that seems to dwarf that of SARS. So how worried should we be? Now epidemiologists who have modeled how the disease spreads have some reassuring news. They say MERS is unlikely to cause a global pandemic. But with Saudi Arabia expecting the imminent arrival of millions of pilgrims for the 2013 Hajj, there are still good reasons to be concerned."
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We're Safe From the Latest SARS-Like Disease...For the Moment

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Revenge of the Sar Chasm.
  • Im thinking the death toll has more to do with the quality of healthcare in Saudi Arabia than to the severity of the disese.
    • by pluther (647209)

      Im thinking the death toll has more to do with the quality of healthcare in Saudi Arabia than to the severity of the disese.

      Based on?

    • Seen as its not easy to judge a countries health care with limited information, I looked instead at life expectancy instead to get a vague idea and your right... only countries like the USA have real health care. Why on this link the average American male lives two full years longer than the average Saudi male. Imagine that!
      Of course the typical American male lives about 3 - 4 years less than someone in Europe due to their primitive health care system so I guess they are also screwed if this thing ge

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Ou need to take into account where the start life expectancy. Some countries start it at birth, some a few week after birth.

        • So that explains discrepancies of years just how?

          Time is not linear during infancy? I thought that was limited to adolescent years. Specifically high school.

          • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @10:06PM (#45419513)

            Not sure how this actually affects the statistics these days...

            But HOW it causes discrepancies is incredibly straightforward.

            The issue is not counting lives at all if they don't reach a particular point. If country A and B have identical birth rates and identical death rates (not just rates - the full blown distributions of such, etc.) but country A counts lives from birth and country B starts lives from 3 weeks after birth, this means country B has completely removed from consideration every infant that died prior to age 3 weeks. You can imagine this would lead to different "life expectancies".

            Indeed, this works in different ways. This is one reason the ancient world had life expectancies that were really low and yet had quite a few old geezers around. The fact was that it was HARD to live to ten. But for those who did, living as long as fold do today wasn't so strange.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Im thinking the death toll has more to do with the quality of healthcare in Saudi Arabia than to the severity of the disese.

      The Saudis have single-payer health care and are a rich country, so I seriously doubt that's the case.

  • I remember sars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:44PM (#45417975)

    That disease everybody was so panicked over because you had only a 97% chance of survival.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have about 500 people in my company's office building. If only a third of them get sick that's still 5 people that die.

      • But it isn't exactly airborne hepatitis C or anything. If you notice, my comment was mainly taking a whack at the overreaction of the media, ("only 97%") putting some people in a panic over nothing.

        If you get sick, yeah then you and people around you should probably take proactive measures, and chances are you'll come out of it fine, and at the worst maybe one or two of those 500 people you mention even get exposed to the disease, possibly infected, and extremely unlikely actually die from it.

        If you aren't

        • by nbauman (624611)

          I have a jar with 30 jelly beans. 1 contains cyanide. Would you eat one of those jelly beans?

          • Sure.

            We know which jar contains a cyanide pill don't we? So we isolate it from the rest, test each bean in that jar for significant cyanide contamination, throw out the pill, eat jelly beans.

            On the other hand, saying "oh my god, there's a cyanide pill" doesn't accomplish anything.

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            I have a jar with 30 jelly beans. 1 contains cyanide. Would you eat one of those jelly beans?

            This is the typical panicked response that the media depends upon. Your chances of contracting the disease isn't anywhere near 1 in 30, and your chance of dying is much smaller still. Learn what the real numbers are, and you can pay attention to the things that really matter in life instead of what you've heard on the boob tube. Relatively speaking, a much higher number (and percentage) of the population died in auto accidents. Should everyone stay home?...maybe not because more people died in home fires

            • by nbauman (624611)

              I based that on the parent's assumption that a 3% mortality was a 97% survival, which he said did not justify the media's "panic."

              The truth is, we don't know exactly how many people this year's flu is going to kill. It usually kills between 20,000 and 40,000 people a year in the U.S., which is about equal to the automobile fatalities, which is also a major cause of death.

              There are only about 2,500 deaths a year from home fires http://www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/estimates/index.shtm [fema.gov]

              Because it causes so many

              • by dcw3 (649211)

                Okay, well maybe I misunderstood you, but I'm still missing it as the discussion is about SARS, not influenza. And, for that my comparison is still accurate. Your numbers for fires are the same as mine, only stated differently.

    • That disease everybody was so panicked over because you had only a 97% chance of survival.

      You also have to ask what permanent damage is done to the survivors.

      • You also have to ask what percentage of people even got infected to begin with (hint: not many.) My post was mainly a snark against the overstatement of the media needlessly inciting panic in some people.

    • Re:I remember sars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @06:59PM (#45418545)

      3% mortality is horrific; if 20% (typical "bad" flu infection rate) of the USA population got the disease, and 97% survived... that would still be 1.8million corpses in the USA alone.

      That's more dead American's in one go than all American casualties of war since (and including) the revolution.

      World War I & II, the Civil War, the Revolution, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, and all the little ones combined is only 1.3M dead, (with another 1.5M wounded).

      1.8M dead is pretty horrific.

      Yes, its not civilization crushing levels of horrific like a new black plague would be, but it's still pretty horrifying.

      • by delt0r (999393)
        3% mortality is also mostly bullshit. Guess how many people had SARS but didn't feel sick and didn't go to the hospital? We don't know because people that where already sick enough to get admitted where the only ones tested. Even then quite a few of those "tested" where only tested in the sense that a doctor decided they had it from symptoms. Our old group worked on the genetics of this. We say the data, or lack of thereof first hand.

        H1N1 was similar. In NZ if you had flu like symptoms you went down into
        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Hint: Most years, not every year, but most years ... its H1N1 ... that doesn't MEAN anything. Its an entire CLASS of viruses, not a specific strain. The most common class is ... H1N1 and has been for as long as we've had a identifier for it.

          Whats better is that in the US, during the big flu scars in recent years ... while people are ranting and raving about how bad it is on TV (including CDC reps ) ... a look at the CDCs statistics, you know, the ones that are generated automatically and not biased by sc

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      This one looks more like 42%. That's assuming of course that there aren't low grade infections that aren't even diagnosed.

    • by WhatHump (951645)

      Were you living in one of the affected areas? I lived in Toronto at the time, and yes, there was panic. When you had health professionals - doctors and nurses - who were getting sick even though they were wearing outfits that were supposed to protect you against any infection, there was good reason to panic. There were a lot of unknowns surrounding SARS and the fear was very justifiable.

    • The hilarious thing about SARS and MERS and H1N1 Swineflu is they're so ridiculously impotent. SARS will fucking kill you! ... it infected 8,000 people over like 15 years. H1N1 Swineflu infected 30,000 people in its peak run over 3 years--you know, when they then decided vaccines were bad for you--and killed very few. That same year, H3N5 and whatnot infected tens of millions and killed hundreds of thousands. H1N1 Bristol did about the same. The vaccination for H1N1 Swineflu was available separate for

  • For a while there they were talking about camels as a repository for MERS. I dont know the latest.
  • Pet camels (Score:4, Funny)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:47PM (#45417995) Journal

    From the article:

    Indeed, virologists announced earlier this week that a camel owned by a victim of MERS also had the disease, the first evidence of this kind of transmission so far. So if you don’t own a pet camel, you’re probably safe.

    Sorry, Drommy. Guess I'm gonna have to put you down.

  • by gordo3000 (785698) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @05:57PM (#45418059)

    the Hajj finished almost a month ago, is the summary implying a >1 month gestation for the virus or are we just horribly out of date?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is slashdot, Hajj will be upcoming for the next two reposts then next week we'll get an article about how nobody died at it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would be impossible to immunize against the swine flu in Middle Eastern countries because they would refuse to have anything "pig" put in them. So we will call it MERS. Carry on.

  • I must have missed the part where we announced that SARS was no longer a threat.

    So long as people and animals live in close proximity with birds, it is a threat.

    And, quite frankly, that has for the most part not changed, in terms of behavior or consumer attitudes in Asia.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      SARS was never 'a threat', just the battle cry of a bunch of people wanting more funding.

      If you were worried about SARS you must have all sorts of anxiety issues since there are easily a billion things more likely to kill you in the next year.

  • SARS - 8000 people dead!

    The latest 'possible' pandemic - 150 people dead!

    I think more people are probably killed by frisbees.

  • A man once said, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." However, Fukushima(the planet killer) will make all of this disease talk, healthcare talk moot.
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      oh my god you're right, let's look at the latest Fukushima Diachi radiation death toll.........zero. let's look at those radiation poisoned: zero. Let's look at the contamination on the west coast of the USA, one radiactive Xenon atom per cubic meter attributed to Fukushima soon after the accident. Why, the death count might even double over the next five years!

      • by slick7 (1703596)

        oh my god you're right, let's look at the latest Fukushima Diachi radiation death toll.........zero. let's look at those radiation poisoned: zero. Let's look at the contamination on the west coast of the USA, one radiactive Xenon atom per cubic meter attributed to Fukushima soon after the accident. Why, the death count might even double over the next five years!

        I hear there are many vacant homes in Fukushima, I guess you will be moving there?

  • by jasax (1728312) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @10:23PM (#45419611)
    By chance, a few weeks ago I saw a documentary about SARS in China.

    Remember that the 2008 Olympics were to be in Beijing, and so Chinese authorities in 2002 tried everything to avoid inflicting any tiny bit of fear in the tourists coming to China. They tried at first to admit there was an epidemics, and along the way declared many SARS fatalities as due to other causes. The things become more transparent (i.e. the official numbers were more realistic) when the medical community all over the country began to put a strong pressure. Many doctors were victims because when SARS started the hospitals didn't have equipment to protect them conveniently. But today no one really can tell the "true" number of SARS victims (and also of infected people) in China, and that biases the global SARS statistics, of course.

    But the documentary was not about the deaths: it was about the survivors that have been treated in hospitals. In fact, the standard treatment was to deploy huge amounts of cortisone in the infected and that, AFAIR, stops blood flow in bones (among other secondary effects) and so many bone parts died in the patients in the forthcoming months and years. Some people have already gone into surgery many times (up to a dozen or so, in some cases) to patch those dead bones and other injuries in joints, many are in wheelchairs and in some cases they are sorts of abandoned by family and authorities. Some have already died, or even committed suicide.

    It was said that the "cortisone" treatment was in China only, other countries (such as Canada, which had a bunch of deaths) didn't follow those medical guidelines.

    Couldn't google the documentary name but just found an article about the issue: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-01/07/content_9276884.htm [chinadaily.com.cn]

    Final words: many survivors are still severely crippled from SARS. For them the SARS epidemics didn't end in a few months. And local medical practices still make a strong impact in the quality of life of the patients.
    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Why you're not modded informative is beyond me. The possibilities of MERS are frightening, given what I've read on it the past six months. The Saudi secrecy is unforgiveable. There are too many unknowns and too little data.

      Funny thing: we're inundated every waking moment by stuff; when we go looking, say for news, it's worse. If we can contrive for ourselves filters that at least seem reasonable, balanced, unbiased enough to have a chance to keep our prejudices challenged, our intellects stimulated, ou

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Neither yourself or your cohort are modded insightful because nothing insightful was said. You're doing the typical anti-science way to deal with issues that you don't know anything about, blow them out of proportion, assume the worst and that tomorrow the Earth will stand still.

        And for reference, you can still see stars from the rooftop of any reasonable tall building in NYC on a clear night. Your perception of the world is sadly out of touch with reality, like so many. Thats the fear you should have fo

        • by jasax (1728312)
          Is this comment related by any means with the post "Are SARS statistics really true?" Where the is the "anti-science"stuff? Are the reported facts lies? How do the stars and rooftops line fit the Plot? I'm really out of the game here...
        • by kermidge (2221646)

          Okey, fine. What I found disturbing was the apparent (from everything I was able to find to date) lack of information largely owing to censorship about MERS - vector, incubation time, infection rates, spread, all that little stuff. SARS I find interesting due its mutations and, from what i gather, shifting sources and transmission. If that interest by you is anti-scientific or alarmist, so be it.

          I do apologize for going astray with the matter of followup; your recounting seeing the SARS documentary got m

  • half a billion chinese in south china and hong kong, and 8,000 get the disease, and 800 die. So hardly anyone even gets SARS. 50 million people in saudi arabia and surrounding countries, and only 149 get infected and only 63 die? that tells me most people get the sniffles and brush it off

  • From the Center for Disease Control.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpKZvnJwicA [youtube.com]

    It wasn't profitable to continue research ahead of disaster. Shareholders demanded a better return. (Though Pfizer felt obligated to their history in this area did maintain a small program.)
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-19/health/ct-met-antibiotics-pipeline-20130319_1_drug-resistant-tuberculosis-resistant-bacteria-ketek [chicagotribune.com]

    How did we get here?
    It's likely that we wern't careful to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics. Usi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can we please take this moment to remember Carlo Urbani, the man who discovered SARS, continued treating his patients in full knowledge of the danger and kicked off the WHO response which potentially saved millions of lives. He died of the same disease, and his final act before he passed away was to sign away his organs to medical science to try help people find a cure.

    People should know his name. There should be a statue of him outside the WHO. It is a travesty that more people know the name Paris Hilton t

  • Nuke Saudi Arabia in the middle of the Haj
  • While there is such a close proximity between the avian population and humans in certain societies, we can expect to see more of the same. That and air travel and I don't mean of the avian kind ref [ctvnews.ca].
  • "Back in 2002, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS killed about 10 per cent of the 8,000 people it infected in southern China and Hong Kong" I asked the following question about H5N1, it seems to be just as relevent to SARS: When H5N1 was doing the rounds in the UK, I, and my wife, and a lot of other people I knew, had long running and/or recurrent chest infections over a couple of months or so. None of us was ill enough to bother to go to the doctor, and there were enough people about with the same
    • by shikaisi (1816846)

      When H5N1 was doing the rounds in the UK, I, and my wife, and a lot of other people I knew, had long running and/or recurrent chest infections over a couple of months or so. None of us was ill enough to bother to go to the doctor, and there were enough people about with the same symptoms that we were still working, so we didn't need a medical report to miss work. So, we never got on any statistics for having something. My feeling (and my wife's, who is a biologist) is that its quite likely that a lot of people got H5N1 but were never diagnosed nor counted. This makes the claimed "H5N1 killed n% of people it infected" (whatever n% was) totally specious. And I'd bet that the same is true of SARS.

      I lived in China throughout the SARS outbreak. Your idea would be plausible in a Western country, but not in China during SARS. Every workplace took the temperatures of everyone turning up for work every day. If you had any fever, you were isolated and had to see a doctor. Little old ladies from the Communist party social welfare organization did the rounds of every house and apartment regularly to check whether anyone had fever or flu-like symptoms. Anyone travelling by air or train had their temperature t

  • ... they'll let this chance slip away and we'll still have to wait for the zombie outbreak to use the nukes.
  • Don't hold your breath.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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