Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a contagious and sometimes fatal respiratory illness. SARS first appeared in China in November 2002. Within a few months, SARS spread worldwide, carried by unsuspecting travelers.

SARS showed how quickly infection can spread in a highly mobile and interconnected world. On the other hand, concerted international cooperation allowed health experts to quickly contain the spread of the disease. There has been no known transmission of SARS anywhere in the world since 2004.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

SARS typically begins with flu-like signs and symptoms — fever, chills, muscle aches and occasionally diarrhea. After about a week, signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

When to see a doctor

If you think you've been exposed to or have SARS, see your doctor right away. SARS is a serious illness that can lead to death.

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