The purpose of this paper is to discuss SARS as a systemic illness, describing and discussing its components. To this end, the paper discusses why it is important to study SARS, the pathophysiology of SARS, the various stages of the illness, and matters related to diagnostic testing.
There are several reasons why it is important to study Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As noted by Wenzel and Edmond (2003), it is a new, highly communicable disease about which we are still learning; further, it causes severe illness in a large proportion of those who are exposed. Moreover, there is no firm consensus regarding its mortality rate. For example, while Wenzel and Edmond report a mortality rate of 4.9 percent, Rahav (2003) states that the mortality rate is between 6 and 7 percent; and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, (2003), which is the national web resource that provides MEDLINE and other medical databases, reports that the actual rate may be as high as 15 to 19 percent. These statistics indicate the potential a very grave global epidemic.
A coronavirus which is unlike any other known members of the genus Coronavirus appears to be the causative agent in SARS (Drosten, 2003; Poutanen et. al, 2003)). Nicholls & associates (2003) report that the virus causes a destructive effect in VERO cells and Frhk-4-cells. In the lungs, the virus causes alveolar damage, bronchial epithelial denudation, loss of cilia and squamous metaplasia (transformation/replacement of cells). The authors further state that their research indicates that dysregulation associated with immunoregulatory substances secreted by the cells of the immune system may account for the severity of the disease in different individuals.
Although the disease is associated with the respiratory system, it often affects other organs and systems of the body. For example, Zhang (2003) notes that SARS is often accompanied by lesions of the digestive sy...