Is SARS contagious?
SARS is highly contagious and spreads quickly between people.
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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an infectious viral disease that spreads mainly through sneezes and coughs and infects the respiratory tract.
Symptoms of SARS resemble those of the flu: fever, dry cough, breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, discomfort (malaise), headache, chills, dizziness, stiff muscles, diarrhoea (in 10-20% of people), loss of appetite and a runny nose.
Anyone can catch SARS if exposed to an infected person. There have been no cases of SARS since 2004.
Because SARS has similar symptoms to other viral diseases, it is not easy to diagnose. Diagnosis is done via laboratory tests checking for the presence of the virus in the throat, blood or faeces. A chest X-ray may also be taken.
There is no specific treatment for SARS. A person suspected of being infected will be quarantined to prevent further spread and can receive supportive treatment if necessary, which may include breathing support (a ventilator), antiviral medication, antibiotic …
The SARS virus spreads via sneezes and coughs. It can also spread through infected faeces and by touching infected surfaces and then touching the nose or mouth area.