SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

A viral respiratory infection caused by the SARS coronavirus. It is transmitted through close person-to-person contact. It is manifested with high fever, headache, dry cough and myalgias. It may progress to pneumonia and cause death.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About SARS Coronavirus (SARS-CoV)

SARS-CoV caused an infectious disease that was first identified in people in early 2003. Scientists believe the virus emerged from Guangdong province in China, infecting people who handled or inhaled virus droplets from cat-like mammals called civets.

By 2004, SARS-CoV disease had disappeared in humans, and scientists are not sure whether it will return. Though its stay was short, SARS-CoV changed how scientists respond to emerging infectious diseases by focusing on the need for global openness and immediate cooperation.

Prior to SARS-CoV, emerging infectious diseases were thought to take weeks or months to spread globally. SARS-CoV showed how efficiently a virus could spread through international travel. By mid-2003, SARS-CoV had spread to 29 different countries, including the United States.

Since then, scientists and public health officials around the world have worked to rapidly coordinate studies and emphasize the need to share information with colleagues at the start of infectious disease outbreaks.

Symptoms

Symptoms of SARS-CoV infection were flu-like, including high fever, head and muscle aches, cough, and shortness of breath. Most people with SARS-CoV ultimately developed pneumonia. The virus most commonly spread by close human contact; droplets of SARS-CoV can be released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. NIH - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Chinese herbs combined with Western medicine for treating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an acute respiratory disease, characterised by influenza‐like (flu‐like) symptoms, which first appeared in 2002. SARS is a rapidly progressive, acute, community‐acquired respiratory illness, which spreads to all contacts. Integrated Chinese and Western medicines played an important role in the treatment of SARS and this review assessed the effectiveness and safety of this integrated treatment approach. Among 5327 confirmed cases, 3104 patients received traditional Chinese medicine. We explored the role of Chinese herbs in treating SARS to offer an effective method for SARS treatment.

Systematic review and meta-analysis on the integrative traditional Chinese and Western medicine in treating SARS

OBJECTIVE: To systematically evaluate the effects of Chinese herbal medicine in treating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

SARS: systematic review of treatment effects

This review assessed treatment options for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The authors concluded that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether patients with SARS benefit from treatments currently used, and that some treatments might be harmful. The review appeared to be well conducted and the authors' conclusions are likely to be reliable.

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Summaries for consumers

Chinese herbs combined with Western medicine for treating severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an acute respiratory disease, characterised by influenza‐like (flu‐like) symptoms, which first appeared in 2002. SARS is a rapidly progressive, acute, community‐acquired respiratory illness, which spreads to all contacts. Integrated Chinese and Western medicines played an important role in the treatment of SARS and this review assessed the effectiveness and safety of this integrated treatment approach. Among 5327 confirmed cases, 3104 patients received traditional Chinese medicine. We explored the role of Chinese herbs in treating SARS to offer an effective method for SARS treatment.

Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses

Although respiratory viruses usually only cause minor disease, they can cause epidemics. Approximately 10% to 15% of people worldwide contract influenza annually, with attack rates as high as 50% during major epidemics. Global pandemic viral infections have been devastating. In 2003 the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic affected around 8000 people, killed 780 and caused an enormous social and economic crisis. In 2006 a new avian H5N1, and in 2009 a new H1N1 'swine' influenza pandemic threat, caused global anxiety. Single and potentially expensive measures (particularly the use of vaccines or antiviral drugs) may be insufficient to interrupt the spread. Therefore, we searched for evidence for the effectiveness of simple physical barriers (such as handwashing or wearing masks) in reducing the spread of respiratory viruses, including influenza viruses.

More about SARS

Photo of an adult

Also called: SARS-CoV

See Also: Pneumonia, MERS

Other terms to know:
Coronaviruses, Muscle Ache (Myalgia)

Related articles:
Protecting Yourself From Respiratory Infections

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