X-Message-Number: 21975
Date: Sat, 14 Jun 2003 09:10:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: Christine Gaspar <>
Subject: sars, sars, sars...

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Hi again. I would like to continue reporting on the SARS situation in Toronto, 
if you as cryonet, and CSC readers are still interested in hearing about it on 
this forum. I enjoy sharing SARS stories, because I don't think that there is 
any other cryonicist in the position to provide such information to the cryonics
community. ( That is uncensored, direct information, not skewed by the media or
our public relations department). I think that the new reality of SARS is such 
that we as life extensionists can learn from it, and perhaps apply the lessons 
here to future biological threats.

I was told last night by one of the physicians I work with that my hospital has 
become THE authority on SARS in North America, as no one on this continent has 
had so much experience as us in battling it. We have more than 30 staff members 
infected, we have been treating the Toronto community at large with SARS since 
its onset in March, and our attempts at treating such a disease is 
groundbreaking and important. 

We are developing the pilot studies on what types of treatments to use in this 
battle, as well as protocols for how to contain such a virulent disease within 
our walls. 

The plastic barriers and hepafilters installed in our department, as you may 
have seen in the photos I posted this past week, were put in place because the 
nursing staff I work with (me included) filled out "unsafe work conditions" 
forms submitted to the Ministry of Labour in Ontario. We called the Ministry of 
Labour to come and inspect our workplace, as we knew that the existing barriers 
were completely inappropriate for containing this virus, and keeping us safe. 
This was not initiated by our management, physicians, or the CDC. I say this 
because I am very proud of how proactive and vocal our nursing staff has been in
dealing with this disaster, and how instrumental they (we) have been in keeping
SARS from spreading further. The nursing profession has traditionally been 
surpressed and left out of the decision making process. In fact, as I stated 
before, "SARS Part Two", as it is affectionately being called, could have been 
completely avoided if the SARS taskforce had listened to
 our dire warnings that there were disturbing patterns emerging

in the population we were serving, and flat out told us we were over-reacting, 
as they were issuing directives to all staff that it was ok to discontinue 
wearing N95 masks and other protective gear. I continue to present this 
information, because I strongly feel that we will have another outbreak if we do
not remain absolutely vigilant. Every outbreak has started by one patient, that
"got away". The single biggest mistake that authorities made was insisting that
SARS could not be diagnosed if an epidemiological link could not be 
established. A person could have a fever, shortness of breath, myalgia, etc, but
if they could not recognize a contact with another sars infected person, they 
refused to accept the possibility that that diagnosis could be made.

It has become evident that the SARS virus can survive on surfaces outside of the
body for days, easily infecting people with no obvious relationship. It has 
also been suggested that a building's ventilation system may possibly spread the
virus between floors. We had an incident where two psychiatric patients became 
infected on our inpatient psych floor (7 west). There were also pockets of 
infection on 4 west (orthopedics), and 8 west, one of our SARS floors. Note the 
geographic location of these floors...all in the same wing of the hospital, 
perhaps sharing ventilation ducts. Also, I learned today that scientists in 
Alberta were able to isolate the virus in the air, suggesting the possibility 
that it may indeed be airborne, or be becoming an airborne virus. Two of our ICU
nurses became infected, wearing protective gear, during the intubation of a 
patient...hence the introduction of the very expensive stryker suits ( the blue 
space suits in my photos).

The two individuals I reported on from the beginning...the 31 year old 
physician, and the 34 year old personal support worker...who have had SARS since
March, remain on ventilators in our ICU...but they are finally showing real 
signs of improvement. Also, SARS virus is still being shed into our patients 
stool...weeks after the onset of symptoms...making it very difficult to 
establish how long the virus remains in the human body, and how long a patient 
remains infectious. 

Initially, patients were being treated with a cocktail of broad spectrum 
antibiotics, steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, and ribavarin. The ribavarin 
turned out to be useless, and in fact causing serious complications for the 
patient such as anemia. That was discontinued. We are currently using 
interferon, which is showing promise.

Also, I just learned last night that there will be a new study, starting 
shortly, which will assess the blood of health care workers such as myself who 
have been working with SARS, but have not become ill. The purpose of the study 
is to look for antibodies in our blood, to see if we have been exposed to the 
virus...and developed immunity, as well as to explore the possibility that we 
can serve as potential carriers of SARS, by being "sub clinical", perhaps we 
were infected, developed very minor symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, etc and
never knew that we were potentially infectious.
That's my SARS update for today...more later if you wish
Christine Gaspar


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