Symptoms and Signs of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 5/31/2022

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

Respiratory symptoms of SARS develop three or more days after exposure and include

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. 

What is the Treatment for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)?

  • The treatment for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is supportive care.
    • Providing the patient oxygen and ventilator support may be necessary.
  • Patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) are usually very critically ill and need intensive care monitoring and treatment.
  • These patients will also need to be placed in strict infectious disease isolation.
  • Patients may also be treated with corticosteroids to decrease inflammation in the lungs.
  • If a secondary bacterial infection occurs from the damage the virus does in the lungs, antibiotics may be needed. Intravenous fluids and possibly drugs to increase blood pressure may be needed in critically ill patients with shock.

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