SARS : How It Spreads, Prevention And Treatment Options ?


The respiratory condition known as a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) can be lethal. In November 2002, SARS initially surfaced in China.

In a society that is so mobile and connected, SARS demonstrated how rapidly an illness can spread. A coordinated multinational effort enabled medical professionals to swiftly stop the disease's spread. Since 2004, there has been no confirmed SARS transmission anywhere in the world.

The coronavirus SARS-CoV causes SARS. A common kind of virus known as a coronavirus frequently causes upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. 

There are seven different types of coronavirus that can infect humans. Most people will encounter at least one type of coronavirus frequently during their lives. 

Other coronaviruses that it causes:

  • Middle East Respiratory Disease, or SARS (MERS)
  • COVID-19

Since 2002, the three most current coronaviruses have all arisen, and they are all more likely to be fatal than the earlier ones.

According to experts, coronaviruses like the SARS-CoV transmit through intimate human contact as well as droplets from coughing and sneezing. The viruses could spread through the air or in other ways that science is only learning about. Through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and eyes, the body most likely receives respiratory droplets.

Virus transmission methods include:

  • Embracing and kissing
  • Sharing
  • Eating and drinking
  • Use of Utensils
  • Speaking to people within three feet of them
  • Touching someone directly

Someone else can contract the virus if they contact an object, such as a door handle or a phone, where droplets from one individual have fallen.

Scientists discovered proof in 2015 that the SARS-CoV virus might last a long time on a dry surface potentially for several months.


SARS is brought on by members of the coronavirus family, which also includes viruses that cause the common cold. These viruses have never previously presented a significant hazard to people.

Yet, coronaviruses can cause serious illness in animals, which is why researchers thought the SARS virus might have spread from animals to people. It currently appears likely that the virus developed into a novel strain from one or more animal viruses.

How SARS Spreads ?

The majority of respiratory infections, including SARS, are spread by droplets that are released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Most specialists believe that intimate human contact, such as caring for someone who has SARS, is the primary way that SARS spreads. Moreover, tainted items like doorknobs and telephones might transmit the illness. and buttons for elevators.

SARS was a zoonotic illness, which means it originated in animals but spread to people.

Viruses may evolve. A virus can become unpredictable and potentially hazardous if it undergoes a transformation as a result of an encounter with another species of animal.

When a new virus initially appears, no one is immune. Over time, the immune system produces antibodies against the new virus.

For instance, when swine flu (H1N1) initially surfaced in 2009, there were worries that a pandemic may spread. It is now one of the seasonal flu viruses that pharmacists incorporate in the yearly flu vaccination. H1N1 is also resistant to many people.

A novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 started infecting patients in China in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic is now being caused by this virus.

How to check if you have SARS?

SARS is a dangerous sickness that can be fatal. See your doctor straight away if you get any respiratory infection symptoms or flu-like symptoms with a fever after returning from a foreign trip. 

Risk Factors

Those who have had direct, intimate contact with an infected person, such as family members and healthcare professionals, are often individuals who are most at risk of contracting SARS.


Flu-like signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscular pains
  • Headaches, and rarely diarrhea, frequently accompany the onset of SARS. 

After a week, signs and symptoms include: 

  • Fever of at least 100.5 F (38 C).
  • A dry cough
  • Breathlessness

SARS symptoms might take up to 10 days to manifest, although they often did so 2–7 days after a person was infected with the virus.

A high temperature of more than 100.4°F (38.0°C) was the first sign. Some minor respiratory problems resembled flu symptoms.

Some early signs included:

  • 10–20% of people have pains, chills, and diarrhea.

The individual may observe the following after 7–10 days:

  • Hypoxia is characterized by a dry cough, shortness of breath, and low blood oxygen levels.

Several SARS patients had long-term liver, kidney, and lung damage in addition to pneumonia.

Over the 60s had a higher risk of developing these problems.


Although various SARS vaccines are being developed, none have been tested on people. If SARS infections recur, abide by these precautions if you are looking after someone who could be infected:

Cleanse your hands. Use an alcohol-based hand massage with at least 60% alcohol or wash your hands often with soap and hot water.

Put on some reusable gloves. Use disposable gloves if you come into touch with the person's bodily fluids or excrement. After using the gloves, throw them away right away and give your hands a good wash.

Put on a mask for surgery. Cover your lips and nose with a surgical mask if you are in the same room as someone with SARS. Wearing eyeglasses may also provide some protection.

Personal things should be cleaned. Apply soap to wash a SARS patient's dishes, linens, and clothing, and use hot water.

Surfaces should be cleaned. To clean any surfaces that may have been contaminated with perspiration, saliva, mucus, vomit, stool, or urine, use a home disinfectant. While cleaning, put on disposable gloves and discard them afterwards.

For at least 10 days after the person's symptoms and indications have subsided, take all necessary measures. If children get a fever or respiratory symptoms within 10 days of being exposed to a SARS patient, keep them home from school.

If SARS-CoV were to recur, a few straightforward measures, similar to those for other infectious illnesses, might aid in halting its spread.

They consist of:

  • Avoiding sharing food, beverages, and utensils
  • Consistently washing hands or cleaning with an alcohol-based detergent,
  • Frequently wiping the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and keeping at least three feet apart from other people.
  • Often disinfecting surfaces

Similarly to this, anyone experiencing SARS symptoms should avoid interacting with others until 10 days after their symptoms have subsided.


Despite a coordinated worldwide effort, scientists have not yet discovered a cure for SARS. Both antibiotics and antiviral medications have little impact on the viruses.

Complications of SARS 

SARS frequently results in pneumonia, and breathing issues can get so bad that a mechanical respirator is required. Some instances of SARS result in death, frequently from respiratory failure. Failure of the heart and liver are further potential consequences.

Serious consequences are most likely to affect people over 60, particularly those with underlying illnesses like diabetes or hepatitis.

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Page last reviewed: Apr 17, 2023

Next review due: Apr 17, 2025

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