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Symptoms and Signs of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Doctor's Notes on SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a life-threatening viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The SARS virus was first reported in 2002 in Southern China and then spread around the world in small outbreaks. Since 2004 no outbreaks of SARS have been reported.

Symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) begin two to seven days after infection and include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and pain, feeling unwell (malaise), decreased appetite, and diarrhea. Respiratory symptoms of SARS develop three or more days after exposure and include dry cough, shortness of breath, and rarely, runny nose and sore throat. One week to 10 days into the illness, most SARS patients have pneumonia that can be detected in the lungs on X-rays. Respiratory distress occurs in some patients.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.