Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
Factors that may increase your chance of developing SARS include:
- Gene variation in the immune system—This gene variation may be more common in people in Southeast Asia. The variation makes people more susceptible to developing SARS.
- Recent travel to locations in Asia where SARS outbreaks have been reported.
- Close contact with someone who has SARS.
- Healthcare workers who care for patients with SARS.
SARS requires care from your doctor. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.
SARS may cause:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Body aches and pains
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Malaise (a general feeling of discomfort)
- Muscular stiffness
- Loss of appetite
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your body fluids and waste products may be tested. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Blood culture
- Sputum culture
- Stool tests
The oxygen level in your blood may be measured. This can be done with pulse oximetry.
Images may be taken of your body structures. This can be done with a chest x-ray .
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:
- Medications that suppress or enhance the immune system
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:
- Practice proper hand washing .
- Regularly use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Disinfect toilets, sinks, or other objects or surfaces used by anyone with SARS.
- Do not share utensils, glasses, towels, or linen with anyone with SARS.
- If you are a healthcare worker, use gloves, a gown, and eye protection when caring for patients with SARS.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
World Health Organization http://www.who.int
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Lu P, Zhou B, et al. Chest x-ray imaging of patients with SARS. Chin Med J. 2003;116(7):972-975.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/severe-acute-respiratory-syndrome. Accessed December 22, 2014.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/sars. Updated April 16, 2013. Accessed December 22, 2014.