SAN ANTONIO -- Every couple of years, there’s a major outbreak of a highly contagious virus. While we’re still learning about the coronavirus, a San Antonio doctor remembers her time battling the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto.

Dr. Jan Patterson, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at UT Health San Antonio, was one of several American doctors who volunteered to go to Canada to help control the virus.

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That particular outbreak was notable because it went from being just spread through the community to actually infecting people within the health care system. 

Patterson said she wanted to go both to help the global community as well as learn everything she could to help prevent future outbreaks at home

She was placed at a hospital with one of the highest rates of internal transmission and wasn’t even accepting new patients. To help protect the doctors, nurses and other health care employees, she said they had to take extra precautions.  

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 "And everyone was wearing a mask and they weren't shaking hand,” Patterson said. “In fact, I remember the person who came to meet me, you know, she introduced herself and said 'Oh, and we're not shaking hands here.'"

Patterson said she wanted to go to Toronto to help the global community, but also to learn how to stop a potential future outbreak at home.

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