Prominent SARS doctor in Canada dies at 68

Dr. Donald Low, the public face of Toronto's response to the SARS outbreak in 2003, has died. He was 68.

Low, who became a trusted face and voice of the response to the epidemic, died Wednesday night after being diagnosed with a brain tumor this year. Allison McGeer, a former colleague, said Thursday he died with family at his side.

The SARS outbreak killed 44 people in Toronto and cost the city $1 billion in tourism. Outside of Asia, Toronto had the largest outbreak, with almost 375 cases. During two outbreaks, more than 27,000 people in and around the city were forced into quarantine.

Low's capacity to explain to the public what was going on made him the face of Toronto's SARS response.

At one point, he had to go into quarantine himself because he'd been in contact with a colleague who came down with SARS. He worked from home and emerged, 14 days later, without developing the disease. He would later marvel that he never caught SARS, given the amount of exposure he had.

He visibly lost weight during the outbreak, prompting concerned strangers who saw him on TV news reports to write to ask after his health.

It would take four months to bring the disease under control.

Low was credited by friends and colleagues for both his contribution to the SARS response and for advancing the practice of microbiology and infectious diseases across Canada.

Colleagues said he loved to puzzle out intriguing new developments in infectious diseases. He co-authored nearly 400 peer-reviewed articles for scientific journals. Low was a global expert in flesh-eating disease—necrotizing fasciitis caused by group A Streptococcus. He was also an early and passionate champion of the need to combat antibiotic resistance by prudent use of the precious drugs.

Low is survived by his wife, Maureen Taylor, and by three children from a previous marriage.

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Saudi Arabia: One more death from new virus

Aug 25, 2013

Saudi Arabia says one more man has died from a new respiratory virus related to SARS, bringing to 40 the number of deadly cases in the kingdom at the center of the growing outbreak.

WHO revises up death toll from SARS-like virus

May 14, 2013

The World Health Organization on Tuesday revised up the death toll from the SARS-like coronavirus from 18 to 20 worldwide, but said the two additional fatalities in Saudi Arabia were old cases.

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments