Is SARS serious?
SARS is a potentially fatal condition - around 10% of people infected with SARS die of the virus.
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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 …