Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Last reviewed: 2 Nov 2022
Last updated: 10 Feb 2022

Summary

Definition

History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • presence of risk factors
  • fever
  • cough
  • myalgia
  • dyspnoea
More key diagnostic factors

Other diagnostic factors

  • chills or rigors
  • malaise
  • headache
  • watery diarrhoea
  • tachypnoea
  • tachycardia
  • cyanosis
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sore throat
  • sputum production
  • chest pain
  • pleurisy
  • rhinorrhoea
  • dizziness
  • arthralgia
  • abdominal pain
  • seizure
  • delirium
  • rales
  • inspiratory crackles
  • bronchial breathing
Other diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • travel to affected area
  • close contact with infected individuals
  • laboratory work on SARS-CoV
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • FBC
  • aminotransferases
  • lactate dehydrogenase
  • creatine kinase
  • blood culture
  • sputum culture
  • nasopharyngeal virus culture
  • direct immunofluorescent antibody staining
  • chest x-ray
  • pulse oximetry
  • reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
More 1st investigations to order

Investigations to consider

  • ABG
  • coagulation screen
  • high-resolution CT (HRCT) of thorax
  • serological testing for SARS-CoV-specific antibodies
  • viral culture
More investigations to consider

Emerging tests

  • rapid immunoswab assay for SARS-CoV detection
  • monoclonal antibodies

Treatment algorithm

INITIAL

suspected SARS

ACUTE

confirmed SARS

Contributors

Authors

Georgia G. Pitsiou, MD, PhD
Georgia G. Pitsiou

Associate Professor in Pulmonary Medicine

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Respiratory Failure Clinic

General Hospital G. Papanikolaou

Thessaloniki

Greece

Disclosures

GGP declares that she has no competing interests.

Ioannis P. Kioumis, MD, PhD
Ioannis P. Kioumis

Professor in Pulmonary Medicine

Infectious Diseases

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Respiratory Failure Clinic

General Hospital G. Papanikolaou

Thessaloniki

Greece

Disclosures

IPK declares that he has no competing interests.

Peer reviewers

Tommy R. Tong, MD

Attending Pathologist

Montefiore Medical Center

Bronx

NY

Disclosures

TRT declares that he has no competing interests.

Sian Griffiths, OBE, MA, MB BChir, FFPHM, FRCP (Lon), FRCP (Edin), FHKCCM

Director of the School of Public Health

Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prince of Wales Hospital

New Territories

Hong Kong

Disclosures

SG declares that she has no competing interests.

  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) images
  • Differentials

    • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    • Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)
    • Community-acquired pneumonia
    More Differentials
  • Guidelines

    • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
    • No. 225-Management guidelines for obstetric patients and neonates born to mothers with suspected or probable severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
    More Guidelines
  • Patient leaflets

    Pneumonia

    More Patient leaflets
  • Videos

    Radial artery puncture animated demonstration

    Femoral artery puncture animated demonstration

    More videos
  • padlock-lockedLog in or subscribe to access all of BMJ Best Practice

Use of this content is subject to our disclaimer