By Jonathan Smith, Staff Writer
Some ACU alumni living in at-risk countries are not changing their daily routines or worrying about the mysterious pneumonia-like virus that appeared worldwide in the last month.
The World Health Organization has reported 487 probable cases and 17 deaths of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which came into the international spotlight in early February.
Its symptoms include a fever over 100 degrees, dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, and it is spread by coming in “close contact” with an infected person.
Singapore has had the second-most reported cases of SARS at 69. ACU alumnae Ann Lim, class of 1999, and Amy Teo, class of 1997, both from Singapore, said the people in their country understand the dangers but are not worried.
“With any contagious disease there is some level of worry, but I am confident that the Ministry of Health here has a good grasp of the situation,” Lim said in an e-mail. “I’m not planning to go to any of the hot spots for a vacation anytime soon, though.”
Other regions hit hardest by the virus are Hong Kong, with 286 reported cases and 10 deaths, and Vietnam, with 58 reported cases and four deaths.
The United States has had 39 suspected cases with no deaths.
Both Lim and Teo said citizens have been extensively warned about the dangers through e-mails and media coverage.
Neither has altered her daily routine, nor do they know anyone who has.
Lim said that with international travel opportunities of today’s world, “situations like SARS can no longer be just an isolated problem for a particular region.”
The World Health Organization’s Web site has not recommended restricting international travel, but it recommends that “all travelers should be aware of the main symptoms and signs of SARS.”
It does recommend, however, that anyone showing symptoms of SARS or who has been in close contact with those who have it should not travel until they have recovered.
Lim said she was concerned because SARS was unknown to doctors before it appeared in early February, but that she does not feel personally threatened.
“I do not like the idea that there are more and more viruses springing up these days that scientists have never seen or heard of before and take a long time to identify,” she said.
Scientists have begun to narrow their search for the virus family to which SARS belongs.
Some researchers believe the virus is in the same family that causes more common diseases such as the measles and mumps, according to CNN.
The World Health Organization has organized an international coalition of 11 laboratories in 10 countries to continue researching the virus.
While the uncertainty about the virus worries some, Teo said her faith will help her through the situation.
“Although this seems like a ‘scary’ situation,” she said in an e-mail, “my husband and I choose to stand by Psalm 91, where we will not fear ‘the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.'”