SARS Deaths – Uh Oh

I have been reading this report over at The Agonist. It looks like the SARS death rate is higher than we have been thinking. To sum up — we have ben comparing the total number of reported cases to the current number of deaths. The problem is that a SARS case shows up and is reported 1-3 weeks before death, so we really should be comparing the number of deaths with the number of cases reported 1-3 week previous. To understand this, hypothetically suppose the number of deaths is 100 and the number of reported cases is 2000. That makes it appear that the death rate is 5%. But if these 100 deaths represent 1000 SARS cases 2 weeks back, then the death rate is really 10%. Go read the report.

Update, from the report:

Close personal contact or being directly in front of a person with SARS, who is coughing or sneezing, is likely the most common way that SARS spreads. SARS can likely be transmitted by other means, and these are under investigation.

“Coronavirus, when it causes the common cold, is most commonly transmitted by hand,” said Dr David Heymann, of the World Health Organisation.

Worries about airborne transmission seem unfounded. Droplet spread is more likely, with fomite spread (transfer by objects) being possible.

There is an interesting current theory about the ‘Amoy Gardens apartment complex’ cluster of cases. The speculation is that feces (containing coronavirus particles) leaked from a broken sewage pipe, causing puddles. The victims walked through the puddles, to their apartments. When they got home, they took off the shoes (contaminating their hands) and then ate or touched their eyes, noses, or mouths before washing their hands.

Wash your hands, a lot!

Wash your hands, a lot! Start making it a habit now.