What is SARS?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus.
SARS is a reportable disease in Ontario.
What are the symptoms of SARS?
The symptoms of SARS include:
- high fever
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- muscle aches
- sore throat
Most people that are infected get pneumonia as well. In serious cases, people need oxygen therapy or mechanical help to breathe.
How is SARS spread?
SARS is spread through close face-to-face contact with someone who has the virus. It is thought to be spread to others by activities such as kissing, or by droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land on the eyes, nose or mouth of people nearby and can cause infection, and they can also be sprayed into the environment and land on objects and surfaces. The virus can then be picked up by a person’s hands and can cause infection if the eyes, nose or mouth are touched.
It is not known if SARS can be spread through the air.
The risk of becoming infected is higher when living in the same house, caring for someone with SARS, or having direct contact with secretions (fluids) from the infected person.
It is thought that people with SARS are not contagious until they show symptoms.
How is SARS treated?
There is no treatment or cure for SARS. People with SARS are managed in hospital under strict infection control measures. Supportive treatments such as oxygen and IV fluids for hydration are given. People with SARS may also be put on a ventilator.
How is SARS prevented?
There is no vaccine for SARS.
Simple preventative measures can reduce the spread of infection.