Facts About SARS

SARS or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a highly contagious respiratory illness that has just affected quite a number of Asian countries and has reached near pandemic proportions sometime between 2002 and 2003. The outbreak of SARS put the disease into the limelight and put the whole world to a scary predicament of trying to contain the further spread of the disease. So far, the threat of SARS has subsided for the meantime but may have chances of striking again if countries are not continuously alert and watchful over the possible spread of the disease in their respective areas.

Symptoms of SARS

SARS usually starts with a fever from two to five days after being infected. There are some instances that signs and symptoms of the disease may not show up for as long as ten days. Other symptoms following the fever include headaches, chills, muscle soreness and general discomfort.

After the general’s symptoms show, an infected person may develop dry cough. SARS may progress into severe pneumonia in some people which can further lead to hypoxemia or severe lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. The symptoms may or may not all show up except a fever over 38 degrees Celsius which is the most common symptom to all SARS patients.

Causes of SARS

SARS is known to have originated from China sometime in 2002 which led to the epidemic in February of 2003. The disease is caused by a new strain of coronavirus which includes the same family of viruses that causes the common cold. Up until 2002, this strain of viruses has never affected humans but has been known to cause severe diseases in animals.

Researchers believe that at some point, the virus strain crossed over from infecting animals to humans. Some believe that it may be a result of one or two different animal viruses that developed into a new strain virulent to humans. The virus can be transmitted by direct contact with an infected person or animal. The virus can be acquired from droplets of infected particles coming from someone who has SARS.

The virus may also be transmitted through airborne particles where the virus may travel farther and longer distances in the air. And because of this, it is possible for a person to contract the disease even after an infected patient has coughed and left the room. The virus may also be spread by handling contaminated objects such as door handles, cups and telephones.

How SARS can be treated?

Currently there is no effective treatment yet found to combat SARS. Antibiotics do not prove to be effective in treating the disease since it is viral in nature. What most doctors usually use to treat SARS only help ease the symptoms that show in patients. Studies are currently underway in testing antiviral drugs effective in other diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis to see if they might also be used for treatment of SARS.