Dr. Tom Buckley's reports on the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong
March 21, 2003 8:20 AM   Subscribe

The other war. Dispatches from the trenches, in the middle of the Hong Kong SARS outbreak. [may be annoying popups] [more inside]
posted by Slithy_Tove (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dr. Tom Buckley is an intensivist (ICU physician) at Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong, which has taken the brunt of the SARS outbreak. He began posting to the Critical Care Medicine mailing list, ccm-l, on 3/15, describing his hospital's experience. The first e-mail was posted here before. However, there have been several updates since then, detailing day-to-day conditions in the SARS war zone. Axel Ellrodt, a French physician, has collected Dr. Buckley's e-mail on a web page. I think it makes fascinating reading, almost like the script of a horror movie: a locked-down hospital, co-workers sickening around you, the deaths adding up day by day, from an unknown killer, like Ten Little Indians with microbes. We feel Buckley's excitement when clue to the infection's identity is discovered; his fear for his nurses; his occasional flashes of dark humor; his utter astonishment at the strange situation in which fate has placed him.

Note that the arrangement is blog-style, most recent entry at the top.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:23 AM on March 21, 2003

wow. heavy post. spookier than richard perle and gang.
posted by specialk420 at 9:12 AM on March 21, 2003

I am heading back down to HK on business in a couple of weeks. Any MeFites around that can provide an overview of the situation? how bad is it really?

Before reading the page linked, I was guessing that there is a bit of scaremongering in the media coverage, but now I am leaning the other way... time to talk to my boss...

Thanks Silthy_Tove, great post.
posted by costas at 9:55 AM on March 21, 2003

I was in Hanoi 2 weeks ago, and there was absolutely no media coverage of this virus AT ALL. In HK on Monday, and just the faint beginnings of panic - people wearing masks etc, but still many observable possible transition vectors. If, as Dr. Buckley suggests, this disease as busted out of the hospital (infecting patients and staff) and started infecting the general population, I strongly advise against going.

Governments (and the media) in Asia have been downplaying this in a massive way. If it is now in the general pop and you get it, you WILL NOT be evacuated (you will not be allowed on any plane), but will find yourself in an ICU unit in Asia. I don't think this is where I would choose to engage in a personal battle with this disease.
posted by zia at 1:45 PM on March 21, 2003

costas: I have been making regular updates of the more important information on my site.

You might wish to avoid HK for the time being.
posted by bwg at 10:14 PM on April 1, 2003

WHO update here - don't go to Hong Kong - Official. This excellent but disturbing summary suggests that we may simply have to live with it ...

" the long-term prospects are gloomier. On the assumption that SARS is a new virus which arose in animals, it cannot be eliminated; there will always be a reservoir of infection, unless all infected animals are identified and slaughtered. Hong Kong adopted this approach to deal with an outbreak of bird flu, slaughtering millions of birds. But that would require a quick test for the disease — which is not yet available — and the willingness of mainland Chinese authorities to act more decisively that they have so far.
That means that SARS has probably already become a more or less permanent feature of human respiratory disease. The test for Britain and the rest of Europe will come next winter, when such infections invariably rise. Along with flu, colds and respiratory syncytial virus, epidemiologists will be looking out for cases of SARS. "

posted by grahamwell at 4:25 AM on April 2, 2003

Apologies this is a better link for the World Health Organisation advice.
posted by grahamwell at 4:41 AM on April 2, 2003

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