Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is also known as SARS. It is a viral infection. SARS can cause severe respiratory distress. This is a potentially serious condition. It requires care from your doctor. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.
SARS is caused by a type of virus called a coronavirus. The virus is spread from droplets in the air. The droplets come from spray when a sick person sneezes or coughs. The virus can also be picked up from objects that an ill person has touched.
The following factors increase your chance of developing SARS:
If you experience any of these, do not assume it is due to SARS. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. See your doctor if you experience any one of them:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
There are currently no medicines to cure SARS. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics. Researchers are looking for a way to shorten the course and severity of the infection with:
The symptoms of SARS may be treated with oxygen therapy. 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 the following 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.
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.
Last reviewed March 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2013
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