Robert Siegel
Stanford University

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

1Sometimes listed as "Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome"

For daily updates, visit:

+ World Health Organization
+ Center for Disease Control
+ Center for the Study of Emerging Infections (CSEI)
+ Program for Monitoring Emerging Disease (ProMED)
+ And from Stanford University

SARS timeline

November, 2002

Reports of illness in Guangdong Province in southern China

February 26, 2003

Johnny Cheng (American businessman, 48) is admitted to French Hospital in Hanoi (with SARS)

March, 2003

Joe Delisi - links SARS to corona-like virus

March 29, 2003

Carlo Urbani died of SARS (Bangkok) - Italian Epidemiologist who alerted the work to the epidemic

March 30, 2003

1550 cases in 13 nations, 53 deaths
62 cases in U.S.

April 12, 2003

At least 112 deaths worldwide
more than 2700 affected worldwide
20 deaths in Hong Kong
quarantine in place in Hong Kong
10 deaths in Canada
58 reported deaths in China (4 in Beijing)

April 14, 2003

Sequencing of SARS agent by Canadian research team is announced - reveals previously uncharacterized corona virus - distinct from known animal and human corona viruses
(Note 1: The speed of sequencing was compared to the speed of sequencing HIV 20 years ago. This is an unfair comparison given the differences in technology and is mostly poignant in terms of illustrating how remarkably far molecular biology has come in two decades. This is not meant to minimize the kudos for the Canada team on their important finding.)
(Note 2: As noted in the announcement, this sequence will facilitate the development of a diagnostic test. Importantly, it will also help to reveal whether or not SARS is a unique entity, a cluster of related syndromes, or even the result of coinfection.)
(Note 3: The Donald McNeil article states that they "had broken the genetic code of the virus...". The gentic code was broken in the 1960s. What these researchers actually did was to "determine the genomic sequence." I believe the commonly misuse of the phrase "breaking the genetic code of something" leads to misunderstanding by the general public.
At least 133 deaths worldwide
more than 3000 affected worldwide
13 death in Canada
160 suspected cases in the U.S.

Corona Virus

+ 1998 (Radhika Dasmahapatra)
+ 1999 (Michelle Hsiang)
+ 2000 (Aaron Mansfield and Jenny Wilson)
+ 2001 (Megan Swanson and Darcy Wooten)

Recent Articles:


+ Peiris JSM, Lai ST, Poon LLM, et al. Coronavirus as a Possible Cause of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Lancet 2003; 361:9364.
+ Ksiazek TG, Erdman D, Goldsmith C, et al. A Novel Coronavirus Associated with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. NEJM 2003 Early Release.
+ Drosten C, Gunther S, Presier W, et al. Identification of a Novel Coronavirus in Patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. NEJM 2003 Early Release
+ Falsey AR and Walsh ER. Commentary: Novel Coronavirus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Lancet 2003; 361:9364.
+ Poutanen SM, Low DE, Henry B, et al. Identification of severe respiratory syndrome in Canada. N Engl J Med 31 Mar 2003.
+ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC lab analysis suggests new coronavirus may cause SARS. 24 Mar 2003.
+ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC telebriefing transcript: CDC update on severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS). 4 Apr 2003.
+ Tsang KW, Ho PL, Ooi GC, et al. A cluster of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Hong Kong. N Engl J Med 31 Mar 2003.

Related topics

+ Falsey AR, Cunningham CK, Barker WH, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus and Influenza A infections in the hospitalized elderly. J Infect Dis 1995; 172: 38994.
+ Peret TC, Boivin G, Li Y, et al. Characterization of human metapneumoviruses isolated from patients in North America. J Infect Dis 2002; 185: 166063.
+ Zambon MC, Stockton JD, Clewley JP, Fleming DM. Contribution of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus to community cases of influenza-like illness: an observational study. Lancet 2001; 358: 141016.
+ Nicholson KG, Kent J, Hammersley V, Cancio E. Acute viral infections of upper respiratory tract in elderly people living in the community; comparative, prospective, population based study of disease burden. BMJ 1997; 315: 106064.

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Last modified: November 19, 2007
Created: April 10, 2003 Meagan Lansdale and Robert Siegel