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From the Vault: The SARS Epidemic

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Nearly 10,000 people in Western Africa have been diagnosed with Ebola while fewer than 10 have been treated in the United States. But the federal government is stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States -- naming an Ebola response coordinator, considering a travel ban from Ebola-afflicted nations, and quarantining people traveling from Western Africa. As the Ebola fear and response grows, we look back in the Washington Week Vault to April 2003 when the United States was battling another epidemic: SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome. As SARS spread from China, we discussed the worldwide spread and economic impact of the disease. "There's a lot of anxiety about whether or not public health officials could really step in swiftly and isolate and quarantine large numbers," The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly said of the SARS epidemic in 2003. Ten years later, the United States only has 10 hospital beds nationwide equipped to handle Ebola patients. What can be learned from the response to this epidemic just over 10 years ago?