Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
SARS Unmasked

SARS Unmasked: Risk Communication of Pandemics and Influenza in Canada

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    SARS Unmasked
    Book Description:

    Will SARS or another pandemic influenza reoccur and, if it does, have we learned how to manage pandemics more effectively? In SARS Unmasked risk communication expert Michael Tyshenko offers answers to this and other questions. Cathy Paterson, who worked as a nurse clinician during the Toronto SARS crisis, adds an important view from the frontlines. Their analysis reveals an out-of-control situation with mixed risk communication messages, a lack of leadership, and an overwhelmed health care system that was unable to both cope with the crisis in Toronto and provide adequate support for their most valuable employees at the time - health care workers.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7685-8
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgment
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Part One: SARS in Canada

    • 1 SARS Timeline: What Happened When in Canada
      (pp. 3-40)

      It began as a mystery illness, with an onset that mimicked several other minor diseases with innocuous symptoms, making its initial diagnosis difficult. Infected individuals unknowingly spread Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to others, including hospital staff, before strict isolation, screening, and quarantine measures were established. More frighteningly, the disease was transmitted between healthcare workers even after strict protective measures were put in place. The disease may have started off with symptoms similar to a mild flu but for some who were infected, there was nothing normal about the illness. Its forceful onset resulted in pneumonia, putting up to 20...

    • 2 Emergency Room Culture and Dealing with SARS
      (pp. 41-70)

      As an emergency nurse clinician working in one of the busiest hospital in one of Canada’s biggest cities I can tell you that doctors and nurses see human tragedy all the time. The magnitude can often be overwhelming, even for healthcare professionals, especially if they have not been trained properly to deal with triage situations or in an emergency setting. Nurses in the Emergency Department (ED)

      have to deal with severe accidents, broken bodies, and diagnosing people with life-threatening conditions, like aggressive cancers, every day. In emergency treatment nurses have to be as efficient as possible to save lives – time...

    • 3 Properties of Coronaviruses and Factors Contributing to SARS Transmission
      (pp. 71-85)

      While many wrongly believe that SARS and coronavirus are the same, they are in fact two separate and distinct things. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is the name given to the clinical manifestation of symptoms resulting from the viral infection of coronavirus, which is the causative agent. Coronavirus belongs to a different viral group than common yearly influenza¹ and is a member of the hemagglutinin H5 group (influenza strains are in the H1, H2, and H3 groups). Coronaviruses are one of several types of virus that cause mild upper-respiratory infections and common colds in humans, but they can also lead to...

    • 4 The SARS Experience
      (pp. 86-120)

      Many of us have had very bad colds and flus that left us feeling miserable, but how do these experiences compare to SARS, as an illness that many of us will never experience? Just what was it like to live through and recover from SARS? Almost all SARS patients had fever and many had associated symptoms like headaches, chills, muscle aches, and general malaise. Although SARS was universally thought of as a respiratory condition this is not strictly true. In a study of over 1,600 cases of SARS in Hong Kong it was found that only 61 per cent showed...

    • 5 The Social Amplification of Risk and SARS as a Risk Issue
      (pp. 121-146)

      Numerous studies have shown that most adults in North America get their news about science, health, medicine, and the environment from the mass media. Daily newspapers are one of the biggest influences on public perceptions of risk. Mass media play an important role by alerting people about environmental health risks but can also distort perceptions through a mechanism that has been called the social amplification of risk.

      The Social Amplification of Risk Framework (SARF) was developed in the late 1980s as a way to describe the various processes by which some hazards and events become the focus of intense social...

    • 6 The Stigma of SARS and Its Effect on People and Places
      (pp. 147-171)

      Sometimes objects, people, or ideas acquire positive or negative associations. Early anthropologists described these associations as “magical thinking,” which was governed by either of two laws: contagion and similarity (Frazer, 1922). The essence of thelaw of contagionis summarized by the phrase, “Once in contact, always in contact.” An object considered impure transmits this characteristic to the person it has contacted, and the recipient cannot get rid of the effects of the contagion without recourse to a purification ritual. Thelaw of similarityis summed up as, “Image equals object.” When demonstrators hang and burn an effigy, or burn...

    • 7 The Need for Sex–and Gender–Sensitive Supports for Healthcare Workers during Infectious Disease Outbreaks
      (pp. 172-187)

      Differential health impacts for men and women are influenced by the interrelations among gender, sex, and power at societal and institutional levels (Wingwood and DiClemente, 2002; World Health Organization, 2002). Nursing is a profession marked by these gendered gaps in power. Historically, the profession has been shaped by deeply rooted, gendered notions of females’ perceived natural abilities to provide caregiving, nurturing, support, and assistance (Dodd and Gorham, 1994; Strong-Boag, 1991). In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the work of nursing was delegated to female family members, as it was believed that caring for others was a natural extension of...

    • 8 SARS Hospitals and Infectious Disease Response
      (pp. 188-209)

      A national survey conducted just three years before the outbreak of SARS in Toronto found that as many as 80 per cent of hospitals in Canada, when analyzed, fell seriously short in preventing patients from getting hospital–acquired infections. The survey, entitled Resources for Infection Control in Hospitals, was conducted by a group of medical specialists who direct infection control programs in approximately thirty hospitals across the country. It involved 238 hospitals in 150 hospital systems and evaluated human and physical resources, as well as the programs that were in place to use these resources to prevent hospital–acquired infections....

    • 9 SARS Public Reports – Recommendations from Expert Panels
      (pp. 210-243)

      Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a serious form of pneumonia, resulting in acute respiratory distress and sometimes death. This contagious respiratory infection was first described, as a new disease, on 26 February 2003 by World Health Organization (WHO) physician Dr Carlo Urbani. He diagnosed it in a forty–eight-year-old businessman who had travelled from Guangdong Province, China, to Hong Kong and Vietnam. The businessman died from the mystery illness; Dr Urbani also died from the illness he named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, on 29 March 2003 at the age of forty–six. Within six weeks of its discovery,...

  6. Part Two: Risk Communication and Pandemic Disease

    • 10 Risk Communication of SARS in Canada
      (pp. 244-276)

      Risk involves both the probability of an adverse event and the severity of that event. In our everyday lives we are confronted with myriad risks that we accept for the convenience or perceived benefits. For example, driving a car, smoking, and poor dietary choices are voluntary risks many of us take. Experts employ scientific risk assessment methods to characterize risks as accurately as possible, determining exact probabilities, while the public perceives risk by experience linked to previous events that gives the risk meaning in an individual context (Ali, 2002).

      When confronted with new risks, individuals react rationally. They want to...

    • 11 SARS and Risk Communication in Other Affected Countries
      (pp. 277-309)

      By the end of March 2003, SARS had been reported in fifteen different countries, including Canada, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, France, Germany, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States, and Vietnam. The movement of people between countries presents a huge, ongoing problem for government officials who attempt to contain an outbreak. Temporarily stopping all air traffic and the movement of people during a biological crisis may be highly effective but such measures are only practical in the short term. Biological infections can last for extended periods of time or occur in successive waves, making extended...

    • 12 Avian Influenza
      (pp. 310-335)

      Throughout history, various societies have experienced and recorded the occurrence of virulent, contagious diseases and viruses as a natural part of life. For most of these outbreaks, people have been at the mercy of pathogens, enduring diseases that would indiscriminately kill tens of thousands. Emerging infectious diseases with the potential to become pandemics that kill high numbers of people overlie a constant background of familiar mortality–inducing contagions. Unfortunately, the majority of the infections occur in the places least able to manage them, and to individuals least able to defend against them. Children are the most vulnerable group, presenting a...

    • 13 Emergency Preparedness for Future Pandemics: Lessons from SARS
      (pp. 336-374)

      Most experts agree that another pandemic is likely to occur in the near future, with some estimates placing its occurrence as a strong possibility within the next decade. Some experts believe the next pandemic will be a recycling of a modified version of a previous influenza A strain – either H1, H2, or H3. These predictions are based on previously recorded epidemiology and viral genetic data collected throughout the twentieth century. The influenza A virus strains can change slowly over time by acquiring mutations cumulatively, or rapidly with radical changes from a mass reassortment event. Major change events occur only three...

  7. APPENDIX: SARS Timelines
    (pp. 375-386)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 387-400)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 401-440)
  10. Index
    (pp. 441-451)