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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Author
Kenneth McIntosh, MD
Section Editor
Martin S Hirsch, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna R Thorner, MD

INTRODUCTION

In February 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported about 300 cases of a rapidly progressive respiratory illness in the Guangdong Province of China with five deaths. Over the next month, similar cases were reported from Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Canada [1]. By the end of the worldwide outbreak in July 2003, a total of 8096 cases were reported, with 774 deaths and a case-fatality rate of 9.6 percent [2].

Termed "severe acute respiratory syndrome" (SARS) by the WHO, initial efforts centered on tracking cases, determining an etiology, establishing a laboratory test for diagnosis, evaluating therapies, and implementing infection-control strategies to prevent further spread. The WHO spearheaded these efforts in collaboration with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health authorities from a number of countries, including particularly China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, and Canada [3,4].

A novel coronavirus was detected in specimens from a number of the patients with SARS, and very quickly the virus was sequenced and fulfilled Koch's postulates [5-7].

Guidelines for surveillance, recognition, diagnosis, reporting, and public health management of this illness are available on the WHO and CDC websites [8,9]. These sites should be consulted immediately whenever SARS is suspected, either as single cases or clusters. Moreover, with the emergence of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) as well as human cases of avian influenza, rapid reporting and investigation of otherwise unexplained severe acute respiratory illnesses have taken on a new urgency. (See "Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: Virology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology" and "Epidemiology, transmission, and pathogenesis of avian influenza" and "Avian influenza A H7N9: Epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis".)

The case definition, epidemiology, etiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of SARS will be reviewed here. Coronaviruses, including MERS-CoV, are discussed in detail separately. (See "Coronaviruses" and "Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: Virology, pathogenesis, and epidemiology".)

                          

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Tue Sep 20 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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