Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained. This fact sheet gives basic information about the illness and what CDC has done to control SARS in the United States. To find out more about SARS, go to CDC's SARS website and WHO's SARS website.
The SARS outbreak of 2003
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a total of 8,098 people worldwide became sick with SARS during the 2003 outbreak. Of these, 774 died. In the United States, only eight people had laboratory evidence of SARS-CoV infection. All of these people had traveled to other parts of the world with SARS. SARS did not spread more widely in the community in the United States.
Symptoms of SARS
In general, SARS begins with a high fever (temperature greater than 100.4°F [>38.0°C]). Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also have mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. About 10 percent to 20 percent of patients have diarrhea. After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough. Most patients develop pneumonia.
How SARS spreads
The main way that SARS seems to spread is by close person-to-person contact. The virus that causes SARS is thought to be transmitted most readily by respiratory droplets (droplet spread) produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplet spread can happen when droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled a short distance (generally up to 3 feet) through the air and deposited on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes of persons who are nearby. The virus also can spread when a person touches a surface or object contaminated with infectious droplets and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eye(s). In addition, it is possible that the SARS virus might spread more broadly through the air (airborne spread) or by other ways that are not now known.
- SARS in Singapore — Updated frequently by ChannelNewsAsia
- SARS?? — Lianhe Zaobao Chinese SARS news article collage
- Fighting SARS Together — People's Republic of China Xinhua News Agency
- Yahoo! News search — SARS Full Coverage from leading worldwide news organizations
- SARS Watch — award winning weblog following SARS around the globe; updated April 2003 - September 2004
- Docbear's daily SARS updates — news and analysis written by Canadian doctor
- Official SARS information from the World Health Organization
- Official SARS information from the United States Centers for Disease Control
- Official SARS information from the Hong Kong Department of Health
- Official SARS information from Public Health Agency of Canada
- Official SARS information from the PRC Ministry of Health (link no longer active as of 14 May 06)
- Official SARS information from the ROC (Taiwan) Center for Disease Control(link no longer active as of 14 May 06)
- Official SARS information from the Singapore Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information and the Arts
- Following their experience with SARS, the Canadians have put together an excellent exposition of the ethical principles that apply in an epidemic or pandemic, and discussion of how the were/can be applied in practice. It's available here.
Medical mailing lists
- EMED-L mailing list — contains "breaking news" discussion of SARS
- CCM-L mailing list — contains "breaking news" discussion of SARS, notably including the dispatches of the intensive-care specialist Tom Buckley on his work on the ongoing Hong Kong outbreak of SARS
- SARS (disease) from Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, University of Iowa.
- SARS: An Open Scar
- Management of Critically Ill Patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
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