Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
SARS usually starts with flu-like signs and symptoms - with fever, chills, muscle aches and frequent diarrhea.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is contagious and sometimes causes death. SARS first appeared in China in October 2002. Within a few months, SARS spread worldwide, the pathogen following travelers unsuspectedly.
SARS showed how rapidly infections can spread in a highly dynamic and interconnected world. The SARS epidemic also demonstrated that international cooperation among health professionals on the spread of the disease can be effective. Since 2004, SARS is known for its transmission that has fallen to zero worldwide.
SARS usually starts with flu-like signs and symptoms - fever, chills, muscle aches, and frequent diarrhea. After one week, signs and symptoms include:
Fever 38 degrees Celsius or higher.
Shortness of breath.
If you think you have or are infected with SARS, see your doctor immediately. SARS is a serious illness that can lead to death.
SARS is caused by a strain of coronavirus, the same family of viruses that cause the common cold. To date, these viruses have never been particularly dangerous in humans, although they can cause severe illness in animals. For that reason, scientists initially thought that the SARS virus may have passed from animals to humans. It has now likely evolved from one or more animal viruses into an entirely new strain.
Spread of SARS
Most respiratory illnesses, including SARS, are spread through droplets that are released into the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks. Most experts think that SARS spreads mainly face-to-face, but the virus can also spread on contaminated objects - such as doorknobs, phones, and elevator buttons.
In general, the person at greatest risk of SARS has had close contact with an infected person, such as family members and healthcare workers.
Most people infected with SARS develop pneumonia. Breathing problems can become severe and respiratory support is needed. SARS is fatal in some cases, often from respiratory failure. Other complications may include heart failure and liver failure.
People older than age 60 - especially those with underlying problems like diabetes or hepatitis - are at higher risk for serious complications.
Tests and diagnostics
When SARS is first detected, there are no specific tests available to help doctors diagnose the disease. Some tests can help detect the virus. But it is not known that SARS has occurred in the world since 2004.
Treatments and drugs
Despite a concerted global effort, scientists have not yet to find an effective treatment for SARS. Antibiotics don't work against viruses, and antiviral drugs haven't been able to see much effect.
Researchers are working on several vaccines for SARS, but none have been tested. If SARS continues to spread, follow these safety guidelines while caring for an infected person:
Handwashing: Wash hands often with soap and hot water or use at least 60% alcohol to rub them.
Wear disposable gloves: If contact with body fluids or human feces, wear disposable gloves. Discard gloves immediately after use and wash hands thoroughly.
Wear a surgical mask: When in the same room with SARS patients, cover mouth and nose with a surgical mask. Wearing eyeglasses can also provide protection.
Wash personal tools: Use soap and hot water to wash the tools, towels, bedding, and clothing of someone with SARS.
Disinfect surfaces: Use disinfectant to clean surfaces that may have been contaminated with sweat, saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, or urine.
Follow all precautions for at least 10 days from the date signs and symptoms have cleared up. Do not send your child home from school if they have a fever or respiratory symptoms within 10 days of being exposed to someone with SARS. Children can return to school if signs and symptoms disappear after three days.