Its seems to me that publishing an obituary for SARS is premature until we get through our first flu season.In case you missed it, it turns out that the SARS coronavirus is less susceptible to dilute bleach than other viruses, but is much more susceptible to alcohol. Changes in hospital disinfecting procedures seem to have stopped it in its tracks. I am not sure how much of this is due to changing protocols in the laundry and in disinfecting surfaces, and how much is due to medical staff using alcohol wipes on exposed skin. My personal suspicion is that medical staff are self administering ethanol as a prophylactic agent. I have no knowledge of that, but I would sure do it. (I also have no clues as to whether a brandy snifter is better than say, bourbon on the rocks, and no interest in conducting the experiment. ;-)What I watch as a statistician is the propagation ratio. How many cases are there so many days (I used 11) after previous new cases. Above one, an infection spreads, above two it tends to spread out of control. With SARS there were some early "super-spreaders" who infected a dozen or more other victims. But as the new prophylactic techniques caught on, the propagation rate has dropped as close to zero as statistically possible.So as long as the medical and public health professions remember the lessons learned, SARS is history. There may be some isolated cases from cross-species propagation in the future. But as long as the propagation ratio is kept low, there won't be any more significant outbreaks.
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