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Friday, March 5, 2021

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS): Cause, Symptoms, Prevention, Diagnosis & Treatment

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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is the disease which is caused by the virus that belongs to the coronavirus family and responsible for the respiratory tract infections in humans as well as birds also. It first came to notice in Feb 2003 when it started spreading in China thereafter in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and Canada. 


The virus which is responsible for SARS, belongs to the coronavirus family and was named SARS-CoV by WHO.  SARS-Covid-2 virus which caused the Covid-19, also belongs to the same family and it’s name is also based on SARS virus’ nomenclature. Origin of the coronavirus is ideally bats which are the reservoir of many viruses. Although the origin of SARS-CoV in the human society is still unknown, yet it is considered that the virus reached the human society through the animals like Palm Civet which either come in contact with bats or predate on them. The human’s continuous encroachment into the forest, may also lead to transmitting these viruses in human society. 


The following mentioned symptoms are the early sign of SARS:

  • headache
  • body aches
  • fever over 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Chill
  • loss of appetite

    The above mentioned symptoms may start developing either in the initial stage or over the period of 7 days which is usual in the case of viral infection. It is also called the incubation period. Sometimes it also includes Diarrhea which might be in almost 20 percent of patients who are affected with the virus.

Some other uncommon symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat

  The above mentioned symptoms may also be developed either in the incubation period or post incubation (after 7 days). It all depends on the body immune system.  These symptoms may also be the sign of emergency medical attention as they may develop some oxygen deficiency in the body and patients start gasping for breath. 


Although the most of the patients who are infected with SARS recover from it fully yet some of the patients’ illness becomes severe and may develop the following complications:

  • Pneumonia 
  • Long term lungs problem
  • Liver damage or failure of liver
  • Partial kidney damage or failure of kidneys 

    Sometimes there is fatality due to heart failure. The chances of these complications are high if the patient’s age is more than 60 and have comorbidity disease like diabetes and hepatitis. Sometimes respiratory failure can also lead to fatality. 


As it is earlier mentioned that the SARS no longer exists, there is no need to worry about it but if it starts spreading again anytime in the future then one can take the following precautions to prevent it.

  • Avoid travelling to the area where the virus is spreading.

  • Either wash your hands with soap regularly or use alcohol based sanitizer to sanitize your hands.

  • Wear a mask if you go out in the area where people are infected with the virus or if you go to someone who is affected with the virus. 

  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.

  • Disinfect the surface which is open to others and could be contaminated with their regular activities.

Simultaneously if the person gets infected, with his moral responsibilities he should avoid making interaction with people and make himself quarantine so that avoid infecting others. 


SARS is a contagious disease which spreads when the droplets from the infected person reach the body of the healthy person. There are different modes of transmission which are sneezing, coughing and exhaling. Even shouting and singing are also responsible for transmission of SARS-CoV. Similar to this SARS-CoV-2 spreads.

SARS-CoV can be transmitted in the following ways:

    Contact Transmission: If the healthy person touches the objects that are already contaminated with the SARS-CoV virus and touches his nose, eyes and mouth. These objects are contaminated when the droplets from infected persons fall on them through sneezing and coughing.

    Droplets Transmission: When the healthy person comes in direct contact with an infected person. In this case respiratory droplets which are about the size of 5 μm transmit from a symptomatic person who is at the distance of 1 meter to a healthy person. 

    Airborne Transmission: many studies claimed that SARS-CoV is an airborne virus which means it can remain in the air for many hours and can be transmitted through inhalation. 


Although the SARS has completely eradicated yet there might be possibility that in future it can be transmitted again to human society as it is also found in the animals which come either directly or indirectly in contact with human society. In that case the following test can be considered:

  • Serology Test
  • Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction(RT_PCR)

Sometimes doctors suggest an X-ray or CT-Scan if the patient has pneumonia like illness to check if there is any effect on lungs. 


Throughout the spreading of virus at the time of its first outbreak, several medicines like Ribavirin, corticosteroids, lopinavir and ritonavir were tried but none of them showed the outcome. Some of them were not effective and the rest of them showed results with major side-effects. Only supportive medicines were used according to the symptoms of the patients. 


To develop a vaccine, it requires continuous hard work. Simultaneously it goes through many stages and numerous trails. Apart from them, It also requires huge funds. Nevertheless the outcome is uncertain. That is what happened in the case of vaccines for SARS but as we were able to break the chain of SARS-CoV virus, the requirement of developing a vaccine against it was seized. Therefore no vaccine has developed so far to treat SARS disease but the studies and research on it, are helping doctors and scientists to develop a vaccine against novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. 

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