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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Was a Scary Moment in Medical History

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS is a respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia and death.

The virus is transmitted from an individual who has symptoms of the infection, such as fever and cough or shortness of breath, that SARS causes. The acute form of the infection causes symptoms like fever and cough, or shortness of breath. The symptoms appear one to three weeks after exposure to the virus. About 1 in 10 people exposed to the virus will develop SARS. There is no vaccine for SARS and there is not a specific treatment for SARS.

You are at risk of getting SARS if you have close contact with an infected person. The virus can be transmitted through large droplets or small particles in the air, similar to other respiratory illnesses like the common cold or influenza. This is why the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome has been associated with health-care related settings such as hospital wards, clinics, and other health care settings.

The History of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

SARS is a viral respiratory illness that was first recognized in 2002. The initial outbreak of SARS occurred in November 2002. There were over 8,000 cases of SARS and nearly 800 deaths. This first outbreak was reported in 27 countries, including mainland China, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam. There is still no specific treatment or vaccine available for SARS, although there are treatments that can help people feel better while they are ill with the virus like pain medications and fever reducers to help with symptoms. Moreover, there is still no specific treatment for SARS that has been identified.

A new strain of SARS was discovered in November 2014, twelce years after the first outbreak in 2002. This discovery led to a series of small-scale outbreaks in China. By February 2015, the World Health Organization announced a risk of global spread of this strain due to the increase in the number of cases between January and February 2015.

What Were the Signs and Symptoms?

The signs and symptoms of SARS are very similar to common flu and cold-like illnesses. The main symptoms of SARS last for a couple of weeks, but some people have had persistent or severe symptoms which sometimes lasted as long as 6 months. These symptoms include:

  • General Illness - Fever is commonly seen with SARS, but this may be due to the suppression of the immune system. This causes complications with the body's defense against bacteria, explaining why so many people have infections like pneumonia. Coughing is another symptom of SARS, but it is also common to experience muscle aches and headaches.
  • Respiratory Illness - Sore throat and shortness of breath are symptoms linked to SARS. It is important to note that these symptoms may be related to other respiratory illnesses like bronchitis or pneumonia. Cough is often referred to as a sign of SARS, but it is important to note that many other respiratory illnesses may cause similar symptoms.
  • Diarrhea - Many people experience diarrhea or loose stools, which are common signs of SARS. It is also important to note that these symptoms may be related to other gastrointestinal issues like stomach flu (stomach cramps and diarrhea). Some people who have SARS can experience bloody diarrhea and severe stomach cramps, leading to dehydration.
  • Neck Swelling - A common sign of SARS is swollen lymph nodes in the neck. This can be extremely painful and is often associated with vomiting, fatigue, fever and muscle aches. In many cases, this swollen lymph node will begin to decrease in size or disappear completely within a few weeks of infection.

What Caused SARS?

It is not known what exactly caused SARS. The virus has been found in different animal species and has also been present in many human samples. Still, it is believed that the virus was introduced into humans from animals. Many experts believe that SARS was introduced from bats to birds, which then infected monkeys and humans. Furthermore, it is believed that SARS was transmitted to humans from these infected monkeys (or other animals) through bushmeat or barbecued meats. This initial outbreak of SARS, however, occurred in China.