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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained.

Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world. 


In general, SARS begins with a high fever (temperature >100.4°F [>38.0°C]). Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort and body aches. Some people experience mild respiratory symptoms with the onset of symptoms, while others develop a dry, nonproductive cough after 2-7 days. These symptoms might be accompanied by or progress to a condition in which the oxygen levels in the blood are low (hypoxia). Respiratory symptoms are usually progressive; almost all SARS patients have radiographic evidence of pneumonia by the sixth day of illness and in most cases lymphopenia. About 10 percent to 20 percent of patients have diarrhea.