Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

(SARS)

Definition

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory infection that was first identified in a 2003 outbreak.
The Respiratory System
BQ00013 97870 1
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

SARS is caused by a specific group of viruses. The viruses are spread from droplets in the air. The droplets come from spray when a sick person sneezes or coughs. Viruses can also be picked up from objects that an ill person has touched.

Risk Factors

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.

Symptoms

SARS requires care from your doctor. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor right away.SARS may cause:
  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Body aches and pains
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Malaise (a general feeling of discomfort)
  • Muscular stiffness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Rash

Diagnosis

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 .

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