I never thought there was a disease, like a disaster, that could harm people’s health and kill many people. Because of advanced medical science, I thought deadly pestilence was only a plot that happened in TV dramas. In 2003, there was a horrible outbreak called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that started in
Guangdong province, Hong Kong and spread as
far as Southeast Asia. Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome is also know as SARS, and it caused widespread social
panic. In fact, many patients and some medical personnel died. SARS was a life long
miserable memory. For me, it changed the way my mother behaved at home, what we
ate, and how I behaved in public. This terrible disease not only influenced my
family, but changed my outlook on life.
Due to the SARS outbreak, it caused widespread panic. The government did not release the information, so people had no idea how to prevent the disease. My mother heard from someone that herb tea could increase our immune system, and vinegar could kill bacteria, so she bought a lot of everyday essentials to keep our family in healthy. Because of the panic, the prices of a bottle vinegar and herb tea were several times than usual. Even though the prices of vinegar and herb tea were unreasonable, my mother boiled vinegar and spread it all over our house everyday. In addition, my parents wouldn’t allow my brother or me to go to another city --
that had more SARS patients. Unfortunately, my uncle had to be in quarantine
because he came from Guangzhou
that had more SARS patients. Although no one died from SARS in my city –Taishan,
it still struck people’s fear of death. Guangzhou
The second effect was my family’s lifestyle changed after SARS. The source of the SARS virus was the wild animal -- Paguma Larvata. When the SARS outbreak started, my family stopped eating any wild animal any more. Even today, our main diet only consists of chicken, beef, fish, and duck. We used to go drink wild animal soups in the winter, but that stopped after SARS. In addition, my mother was very careful with public health, and I changed my public health habits. I would wear a guaze mask when I was sick or when I went to public places. I used to hate wearing guaze mask because I felt very ugly. However, I understood the importance of public health, so I used hand sanitizer frequently before eating.
Finally, the most important effect on me was my realization of the fragility of life. There were about three hundreds SARS patients that died. That meant about three hundred families were broken. It made me realize that life was fragile, and I understood that living was a kind of happiness. Also, I paid close attention to the SARS news. The new SARS patients and death rates increased every day. All the news made me understand the SARS was so dreadful, and I should take good care of myself even though I was still young. I should always respect life and make my life wonderful. On the other hand, I felt the relationship between people became closer. I was touched by a news report that showed some strangers were holding supportive worlds signs to thank and encourage the medical personnel and patients who were quarantined. I learned that people could care more about each other even though they are just strangers.
A tiny SARS germ caused a fearful pestilence, and it was the special experience in my life. Although SARS was so harmful, my family and I were able to learn how to energetically face the difficulty. I learned not to be panic when a disease outbreak and to be calm to face the hardship in life. I understand why my mother always says that health is the most important thing. Now, the H5N9 germ has spread all over the world, but my mother knows how to effectively prevent us from the germ.