SARS – Severe Acute

Respiratory Syndrome

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Image of man sick in bed.

SARS is a viral respiratory illness. It began in Asia in February 2003 and spread to other countries.

Signs & Symptoms

•  Fever higher than 100.4ºF.

•  Headache. The body aches all over. Diarrhea may occur.

•  Dry cough after 2 to 7 days.

•  A hard time breathing and/or shortness of breath. Most persons develop pneumonia.


SARS is thought to be caused by a certain virus. It is spread by close contact with someone who has the virus. Most likely, this is through coughs and sneezes or from touching objects that have infectious droplets on them.


Medical treatment is needed for SARS. Persons suspected of having SARS should be quarantined in a hospital.

Questions to Ask


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

800.CDC.INFO (232.4636)


World Health Organization (WHO)

Self-Care / Prevention

•  Before you travel, check the CDCs Travelers’ Health Web site at for updates on SARS.

•  If you will be in close contact with a person infected with SARS, follow infection control measures. Wash your hands often or use alcohol-based hand rubs. If you can, wear a surgical mask. Don’t share eating utensils, towels, etc. For a more complete list of guidelines, access

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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