Pneumonia or … ?

Since the last couple of days I’ve been down with a throat infection and a mild fever. When my sister-in-law heard this from my wife, she asked if there was a chance that it could be SARS. We laughed out loud.

Then today, when I went to the local doctor for a brief consultation, he asked me if I’d visited Hong Kong or China in the recent past. He was doing his job, of course, but I couldn’t help thinking that what we were witnessing was not a rapid spread of pneumonia, but paranoia.

On a more serious note, when I read in the WHO press briefing that the medical facilities in Hong Kong were being pushed to a limit, I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if there was such an outbreak in India. Given its high population densities and not so high medical infrastructure base ( the latter in comparison to Hong Kong ), controlling the spread of SARS in India would prove to be much more challenging, and the fatalities could turn out to be much higher than what we are seeing at the present. Efforts in the direction of preventing the virus from entering the country seems to be of paramount importance, but we are seeing very little of that at the moment.

Since the news about SARS is currently being eclipsed by war related broadcasts, public awareness about the seriousness of the disease seems to be lower than what it would have been under normal circumstances. This is probably a blessing for the airline industry, which did not need this outbreak at a time when the war itself is taking a big toll on its revenues.

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