SARS

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Alert - Cases suspect of SARS were identified in Epiville!

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a virus from the coronavirus family. SARS spreads most easily through close personal contacts. Persons at highest risk are those who have cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with an infected person. SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. The SARS global outbreak was contained at the end of July of 2003. A total of 8,437 people worldwide became sick with SARS; of these, 813 died. In the United States, there were 192 cases of SARS among people, all of whom got better.

For the latest information on SARS, please check the World Health Organization's (WHO) website or visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website.

WHO Case Definition

Suspect Case

  1. A person presenting after 1 November 20021 with history of: high fever (38°C or 100.4°F) AND cough or breathing difficulty AND one or more of the following exposures during the 10 days prior to onset of symptoms:
    • close contact2 with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS;
    • history of travel to an area with recent local transmission of SARS
    • residing in an area with recent local transmission of SARS
  2. A person with an unexplained acute respiratory illness resulting in death after 1 November 20021, but on whom no autopsy has been performed AND one or more of the following exposures during the 10 days prior to onset of symptoms:
    • close contact2, with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS;
    • history of travel to an area with recent local transmission of SARS
    • residing in an area with recent local transmission of SARS

Probable Case

  1. A suspect case with radiographic evidence of infiltrates consistent with pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) on chest X-ray (CXR).
  2. A suspect case of SARS that is positive for SARS coronavirus by one or more assays.
  3. A suspect case with autopsy findings consistent with the pathology of RDS without an identifiable cause.

Exclusion criteria

A case should be excluded if an alternative diagnosis can fully explain the illness.


1 The surveillance period begins on 1 November 2002 to capture cases of atypical pneumonia in China now recognized as SARS. International transmission of SARS was first reported in March 2003 for cases with onset in February 2003.

2 Close contact: having cared for, lived with or had direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids of a suspect or probable case of SARS.