Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory infection that was first identified in a 2003 outbreak.
The Respiratory System
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SARS is caused by a specific group of viruses. The viruses are spread from droplets in the air. The droplets come from spray when a sick person sneezes or coughs. Viruses can also be picked up from objects that an ill person has touched.
Factors that may increase your chance of developing SARS include:
SARS requires care from your doctor. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.
SARS may cause:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
The diagnosis is made by a combination of the typical symptoms and detection of the virus
There are currently no medications to treat or cure SARS. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics and current antiviral drugs have not had any effect.
Researchers are looking for ways to shorten the course and severity of the infection with:
The symptoms of SARS will be treated with oxygen therapy if it is needed. If you are having difficulty breathing, you may be given oxygen through a tube or mask. More severe problems may require a machine to help you breathe.
To help reduce your chance of getting SARS, take these steps:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Public Health Agency of Canada
Goldman L, et al. Cecil Textbook of Medicine . 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2004.
Lu P, Zhou B, et al. Chest x-ray imaging of patients with SARS. Chin Med J. 2003;116(7):972-975.
Mandell G, et al. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases . 6th ed. London: Churchill Livingstone, Inc.; 2005.
Mason RJ, et al. Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine . 4th ed. London: Elsevier; 2005.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome. Accessed September 19, 2013.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/sars. Updated April 16, 2013. Accessed September 19, 2013.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 15, 2013. Accessed February 19, 2014.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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