SARS is now attacking the intestines as well as the respiratory system. Hong Kong virologist Malik Peiris says this indicates the virus has mutated and will make it harder to develop a vaccine or a medicine for the disease. Tom Buckley, of the intensive care unit at Hong Kong’s Princess Margaret Hospital, says organ failure is now becoming more common. “Initially patients were presenting with just respiratory failure,” he says. “Now we’re seeing renal failure and other organ failure.” And despite mandatory quarantines, SARS carriers are slipping out into the public and infecting others.
A nurse who was exposed to SARS rode the subway in Toronto last week, while she was having symptoms and was contagious. “I ride that train, I could have possibly been on that car,” says commuter Marie Moore. “I can’t get any information. I don’t know if I’m supposed to go to work. I don’t know what to do.”
Transit officials put notices up at all train stops along the nurse’s route with information about the case. The nurse had a fever while riding at least one of the trains but wasn’t diagnosed with SARS last weekend. Ontario Health Minister Tony Clement says this could result in a “potential new outbreak.”
Health officials in Toronto also warn that hundreds of people may have been exposed to SARS by a health-care worker who attended a funeral and church services last weekend, despite showing symptoms of SARS. He’s been called “obnoxious” and “belligerent” for doing this, since he knew he was supposed to go into a 12 day period of isolation after he first got symptoms.
Dr. Donald Low, chief of microbiology at Mount Sinai hospital, says, “It’s surprising still the number of health-care workers who don’t take this seriously. To put himself and other people at risk, I don’t understand it. It just doesn’t make sense?We cannot win this battle against SARS unless we have the?public’s assistance, particularly those put under quarantine?If we see a spike in cases–20 or 30–we’re in for a new phase in the illness, and that phase is in the community.”
Stay tuned to Dreamland to find out what doctors don’t tell you.
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