- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an emerging infectious disease responsible for the first pandemic of the 21st century.
- A novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV, most likely zoonotic in origin, has been identified as the pathogen responsible for the disease.
- Key risk factors include travel to affected areas and close contact with SARS patients.
- Transmission is usually caused by direct contact with infected individuals through respiratory droplets.
- Fatality rate is about 10%, increasing with age, and death usually occurs due to severe respiratory failure.
- Common symptoms include fever, symptoms of lower respiratory tract illness, and diarrhoea. Typical physical examination findings include tachypnoea and cyanosis.
- Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for SARS-CoV RNA is the laboratory test of choice for confirming diagnosis.
- Treatment is mainly supportive. Neither specific therapy nor a vaccine is available.
- Interruption of viral transmission by implementation of appropriate infection control precautions is of paramount importance.
Last updated: Sep 25, 2012