Very few SARS cases have been reported in India so far. However, if SARS becomes established in India it will be very hard to stop.
"Our health system is very inadequate and it will be extremely tough to control the disease if it arrives," Anil Bansal, president of the Delhi Medical Association, told Reuters.
The very limited health case system in India makes the news about SARS coming from India very important. Therefore every suspected SARS case in India is watched very closely.
Not all suspected SARS cases in India have turned out to be SARS. For instance, Maria, the first suspected SARS case in New Dehli, may have a different kind of infection.
"She has been provisionally detected of having acute pharyngotonsilitis,’’ said Dr R.N. Salhan, the hospital medical superintendent.
Also, a 23 year old American woman suspected of having SARS in Bombay turned out to have a less dangerous illness. However there are at least two other suspected SARS cases in India including a 48 year old Indian national recently arrived via Singapore.
A 48-year-old software worker was admitted to hospital in Hyderabad on Tuesday after he arrived from Australia via Singapore with high fever, a cough and cold -- symptoms of the virus that has killed more than 100 people worldwide.
Surely the government of India can afford to quarantine and treat a few thousand sufferers. India is making efforts to be prepared to do so.
Facilities have been created for treatment of SARS cases in isolation in the Central Government hospitals as also in other Infectious Disease Hospitals. Health care facilities at International Airports and Ports have been strengthened by deploying additional doctors and evolving a standard operating protocol.
But the problem for India is that there are hundreds of millions of poor people who have little or no access to medical doctors and medical tests. If a single SARS sufferer reaches India and if that sufferer happens to be very infectious the results could be disastrous.
A single SARS sufferer is all it would take to rapidly cause a large SARS outbreak in a primitive country. "Hyper-infectors" (a.k.a. "super-carriers") of SARS may have been responsible for the big SARS outbreak in the Toronto Canada area.
Canada's SARS outbreak has been fuelled by three "hyperinfectors" who each passed on the disease to 20 or more other people -- a phenomenon never before seen with a virus, experts said yesterday
It is noteworthy that all three of the hyper-infectors in Canada died. Could it be that the more severe form of the disease is more infectious? Perhaps the people who have the severe form cough more and therefore generate more airborne particles which contain active virus.
Individuals who are inordinately infectious have been seen with certain types of bacteria, but not viruses, said Dr. Low.
Africa has the same vulnerability to SARS that India has. Therefore SARS cases in Africa are incredibly important to watch for. A Pretoria South African man who travelled from Hong Kong to South Africa on March 27 is hospitalized and suspected of being a SARS case.
A 62-year-old South African man is being treated at a Pretoria hospital as a "probable SARS" case, according to officials.
One factor that is doing a lot to reduce the chances of SARS spread is the great reduction in air travel. Given India's greater vulnerability to SARS Air India's 60% reduction in flights between Hong Kong and Bombay (Mumbai) is good news.
It further curtailed its services to Hong Kong, and will now operate only two flights a week (on Mondays and Fridays) as against the scheduled five flights a week.
While voluntary decisions to not travel are playing a role in efforts to reduce the risk of further spread of SARS government decisions can block off means of spread by more dramatic means. In order to reduce its risk of getting SARS cases from China the government of Malaysia is no longer granting tourist visas at its diplomatic facilities in China.
Malaysia has taken the draconian step of banning all tourists from mainland China to try to stop the spread of the deadly Sars virus.
India and Africa have greater need to take such a dramatic action than Malaysia does. If tourist travel was cut off other types of travel could still be allowed but under much more stringent rules. In the extreme, countries could allow passengers to travel from other countries but then force them into quarantine for 7 to 14 days upon arrival. This would provide a way for people who plan longer term changes in residence to still move around to take different jobs.
Update: On April 17, 2003 a confirmed case of SARS was found in Goa India.
Goa's chief minister, Manohar Parrikar said that a 32-year-old marine engineer had tested positive for the virus and was being treated at the Goa Medical College. The man is said to have arrived in Goa earlier this month after travelling in Singapore.
The worry has to be that this fellow may have already passed on SARS to other people after he returned to India. SARS may now be on the loose in India. If that is the case the odds of containing it there are low. If SARS becomes pandemic in less developed countries the effect on the world economy would be to cause world recession.
CALCUTTA, April 26 (Reuters) - A 42-year-old Indian man has tested positive for SARS, authorities said on Saturday, the country's sixth case of the virus that has killed at least 289 people and infected about 5,000 worldwide.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2003 April 09 03:53 PM Dangers Natural Bio|