Prominent SARS doctor in Canada dies at 68

September 19, 2013

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.

Explore further: Saudi Arabia: Two more deaths from SARS-like virus (Update)

Related Stories

Saudi Arabia: Two more deaths from SARS-like virus (Update)

August 30, 2013
Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry says two more people have died from an SARS-like virus, raising the total number of fatalities in the center of the outbreak to 44.

Saudi Arabia: One more death from new virus

August 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.

SARS virus treatments could hold the key for treatment of MERS-CoV outbreak

September 13, 2013
A new type of coronavirus, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, MERS-CoV, was first found a year ago in a patient who died. It took several months before it was discovered that a new virus had emerged. New cases ...

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.

Saudi man dies of MERS virus: ministry

July 28, 2013
A Saudi man has died of the coronavirus MERS and another has contracted the virus, the health ministry said on Saturday, bringing the kingdom's deaths from the virus to 39.

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.