SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (SARS)

Introduction

Characteristics

Transmission

Methods for Monitoring in the Environment

Methods for Measuring Human Exposure

Strategies for Preventing or Controlling Exposure


Harmful Effects

Absorption, Distribution and Metabolism

Sites of Toxicity

Biomarkers of Disease

Molecular Mechanisms of Action

Risk Assessment/Management

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RISK ASSESSMENT AND RISK MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

Definitive information about the spread of SARS is continuing to develop. However, public health officials and research scientists have recommended prevention and hygiene processes based on known information about the spread of respiratory illnesses.

Lung infections caused by viruses are usually spread when a healthy person comes into contact with secretions from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected person, usually when the infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing droplets of infected fluid into the air. Contact with saliva also may spread viruses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control also reports that it is possible SARS may be transmitted more broadly through the air and through surfaces or objects that have been contaminated when someone with SARS coughs or sneezes. Therefore, items such as toys, facial tissues and room surfaces touched by an infected person may contribute to the spread of a virus. Regular, thorough handwashing and adequate surface cleaning may be critical to reducing the transmission of the disease.

Viruses vary in their ability to survive on surfaces or outside the body. Researchers studying the SARS virus have found that it may survive 12 to 72 hours on common surfaces, such as wood, plastic, and stainless steel. The survival of the virus outside the body may contribute to the spread of the virus via contact with contaminated objects such as toys, doorknobs and other surfaces.

Public health officials are recommending the use of good hygiene and cleaning practices to help curb the spread of SARS. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands frequently with soap and water. "If hands are not visibly soiled, alcohol-based handrubs may be used as an alternative" to soap-and-water washing, the CDC states. According to the CDC, the use of gloves in healthcare or other settings does not eliminate the need for handwashing. Regular, thorough disinfection of all surfaces that may be contaminated directly (such as forks or drinking glasses) or indirectly (such as doorknobs, tables, and bathroom surfaces) are critical to breaking the chain of infection from person to person. Currently, no virucide products are EPA approved specifically for use against SARS, because the specific coronavirus causing SARS has just been identified and research continues.

Any person suspected to be infected with SARS should be under medical care. Health officials will recommend appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of the disease to family members and health care workers.

Local, worldwide public health officials regularly post information updates. The World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and your local or regional public health officials all have information about SARS, including its incidence in your country, updated information about prevention and treatments, and recommendations or requirements related to public buildings, travel and the like.

While public health officials and research scientists continue to study the coronavirus that causes SARS, and to study means of transmission of the illness, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control have issued interim recommendations for cleaning and disinfection in a variety of environments. These recommendations are based on disinfection procedures known to reduce the spread of other viruses, including other coronaviruses. These recommendations are updated by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control as new information becomes available about the transmission of the SARS virus. Use following links to obtain guidance directly from the WHO of the CDC.