Skip to main content

Free Content Severe acute respiratory syndrome [State of the Art]

Download Article:
(PDF 6960.98046875 kb)


Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a new disease that poses a threat to international health. The SARS epidemic earlier this year affected more than 30 countries and regions, with a cumulative global total of 8098 cases. It is caused by a novel coronavirus, probably of animal origin. The mean incubation period is 6.4 days (range 2–11 days). Patients usually present with high fever, chills, myalgia and dry cough, with or without chest X-ray evidence of pneumonia at the onset of disease. A history of contact with or travel to an area with local transmission is common. Diagnosis is based on clinical criteria, as a valid rapid diagnostic test is not yet available. There is no specific antiviral therapy for this disease, and no controlled clinical trial for any treatment modality has been conducted. In several retrospective studies steroids have been shown to be useful in a proportion of patients who deteriorated despite antibiotics and supportive treatment. SARS has a high morbidity (about 25% required intensive care) and fatality (9.6%). A high index of suspicion for the disease, isolation of patients, strict observation of infection control practices and compliance with use of personal protective equipment are necessary to prevent nosocomial infection. Contact tracing and quarantine are essential measures to prevent community spread of disease. Prevention of future outbreaks requires strengthening of infection control practices in hospitals, development of a rapid diagnostic test and a vaccine, and removal of any animal reservoir and environmental conditions that led to the spread of the disease.

Keywords: SARS; clinical features; coronavirus; diagnosis; epidemic; prevention; radiology

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: 1: Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China 2: Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China 3: Department of Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China 4: Department of Microbiology, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, SAR, China

Publication date: 2003-12-01

More about this publication?
  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
  • Public Health Action
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more