July 06, 2003
Has SARS Really Been Stopped?

The SARS outbreak appears to have ended. But historically influenza epidemics have always waned in the summer and for similar reasons higher temperatures may be blocking the spread of SARS.

There are also suspicions that the first outbreak in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong stopped so abruptly because of the onset of summer. The SARS virus does not survive well in a hot environment, and if most transmission is due to people touching contaminated surfaces, higher temperatures would have reduced transmission.

We aren't really going to know whether SARS has been stopped until the fall season comes to China, temperatures drop, and people spend more time in-doors. Whether we see it again also depends in part on whether there is a significant animal reservoir for it. Did it mutate in a single animal for sale in a marketplace to be able to jump into humans? Did that animal get killed and thereby end its presence in animals? Or are there many animals walking around that carry the coronavirus in a form that is infectious in humans? The answers to these questions are unknown.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 July 06 01:44 PM  Dangers Natural Bio

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