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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome


Acquiring SARS infection is usually associated with travel to a country where SARS has been reported or contact with an ill person who has just returned from that country. Persons who may have been exposed to SARS should seek medical care immediately. Call a health care provider if a fever  or respiratory symptoms develop. Be sure to tell them that possible exposure to SARS may have occurred.

Self-Care at Home

Follow the guidelines described in Prevention to limit the spread and transmission of SARS infection.


SARS is a serious viral illness that requires prompt medical  attention and hospitalization. Once the person is discharged from the hospital, follow-up care with a health care provider should be scheduled.


Persons in direct, close contact with someone who has had SARS are at greatest risk for infection. Persons with SARS or those at risk for SARS should follow the guidelines outlined below. The WHO and CDC have established guidelines to help in the prevention and spread of SARS.

  • Limit time outside of the home. Persons with SARS should not go to work, school, childcare facilities, or any public place until 10 days after their  fever  has ended and their respiratory symptoms are improving.
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and hot water, use an alcohol-based hand rub, or both, especially after being in contact with bodily fluids such as respiratory fluids or urine.
  • Wear disposable gloves when in contact with bodily fluids from a person with SARS. After use, throw the gloves away immediately and thoroughly wash the hands.
  • Wear a surgical mask.
  • Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
  • Do not share eating utensils, towels, or bedding. Thoroughly wash these items with soap and hot water after use by a person who is infected.
  • Use a household disinfectant on any surface that may be contaminated, such as countertops or doorknobs. Wear disposable gloves while cleaning these surfaces.
  • Follow these guidelines for at least 10 days after the symptoms have resolved.

SARS can result in serious illness and medical complications that require hospitalization, intensive care treatment, and mechanical ventilation. The most recent numbers indicate that the death rate from SARS is higher than that of influenza or other common respiratory tract infections. The overall death rate from SARS is about 10%.


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