Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was the first global pandemic of the twenty-first century, spreading within weeks from southern China to over thirty-seven countries around the world. In Canada intense news media coverage had a profound impact on how the disease was perceived, with frontline health care workers, despite their heroic efforts, stigmatized due to their contact with patients. 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 Peterson, 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.
Taking a very broad perspective, grounded in risk assessment, SARS Unmasked adds important information to what has already been said about the 2003 crisis, focusing on the human and societal effects of an infectious disease pandemic and providing tangible guidance for future pandemic threats.