Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a viral respiratory illness caused by the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). It was first reported in Asia in 2003. The SARS outbreak of 2003 made it a disease to watch. While it seems SARS has subsided in its aggression, with no known cases reported worldwide since 2004, it is always best to be informed and prepared.
Transmission and Symptoms
- SARS is thought to be spread through close person-to-person contact (within 3 feet).
- SARS is most effectively spread through respiratory droplets emitted when an infected individual coughs or sneezes.
- These droplets may be transferred through the air when breathing close to an infected individual and by touching an area covered with the droplets.
- Once exposed, SARS may incubate in the body for 2–10 days.
- Symptoms include---
- Early onset fever (100.4ºF or more)
- Headache and body aches
- Mild respiratory symptoms at onset
- 10%-20% have diarrhea
- A dry, nonproductive cough, which may lead to hypoxia (low oxygen levels in the blood) and may require ventilation
- An individual with SARS may be contagious up to 10 days after the fever and respiratory symptoms have subsided.
- There is currently no specific treatment for SARS.
- It is recommended individuals infected with SARS be treated with the same techniques as any other severe pneumonia.
- Always wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of germs.
- Avoid touching anything or anyone with unwashed hands.
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, and encourage others to do so.
Where to Find Additional Information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization—www.who.int/csr/sars/en/