What is SARS?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a serious form of pneumonia, caused by a virus isolated in 2003. Infection with the SARS virus results in acute respiratory distress (severe breathing diffculty) and sometimes death. It is a dramatic example of how quickly world travel can spread a disease. It is also an example of how quickly a networked health system can respond to an emerging threat.


The hallmark symptoms are fever greater than 100.4 degrees F (38.0 degrees C) and cough, difficulty breathing, or other respiratory symptoms. Symptoms in the order of how commonly they appeared have included:

2)Chills and shaking
3)Muscle aches

Less common symptoms include (also in order):

7)Productive cough (sputum)
8)Sore throat
9)Runny nose
10)Nausea and vomiting


SARS is caused by a member of the coronavirus family (the same family that can cause the common cold). When someone with SARS coughs or sneezes, infected droplets spray into the air. You can catch SARS if you breathe in or touch these particles. The SARS virus may live on hands, tissues, and other surfaces for up to 6 hours in these droplets and up to 3 hours after the droplets have dried.

While droplet transmission through close contact was responsible for most of the early cases of SARS, evidence began to mount that SARS might also spread by hands and other objects the droplets had touched. Airborne transmission was a real possibility in some cases. Live virus had even been found in the stool of people with SARS, where it has been shown to live for up to four days. And the virus may be able to live for months or years when the temperature is below freezing.

With other coronaviruses, re-infection (becoming infected and falling ill again) is common. Preliminary reports suggest that this may also be the case with SARS.

Symptoms usually occur about 2 to 10 days after coming in contact with the virus, although there have been some cases where the illness started considerably sooner or later. Those with active symptoms of illness are clearly contagious, but it is not known how long a person may be contagious before or after symptoms are present.

Western Medicine Treatment

Persons suspected of having SARS should be evaluated immediately by a health care provider, and hospitalized under isolation if they meet the definition of a suspected or probable case.

Treatment may include:

1)Antibiotics to treat bacterial causes of atypical pneumonia
2)Antiviral medications
3)High doses of steroids to reduce lung inflammation
4)Oxygen, breathing support (mechanical ventilation), or chest physiotherapy

In some serious cases, blood serum from people who have already recovered from SARS has been given. There is no strong evidence that these treatments work well.

Adopted from Yahoo Health