Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness with no known cure, believed to be caused by a coronavirus, a virus that is one of the causes of the common cold. Symptoms of SARS are similar to those of flu: a fever over 100.4 degrees, followed by a headache, body aches, and overall discomfort. After 2 to 7 days, patients may develop a dry, unproductive cough and have difficulty breathing.
SARS is spread by direct person-to-person contact, by touching an item or body part that a patient has sneezed or coughed on and then touching a membranous part of your own body, such as the eyes, nose, or mouth. Individuals most at risk to contract SARS are those caring for or living with someone with SARS. In the United States,
SARS was first identified in November 2002 in the Guanghong Province of China and has since been reported in other areas of Asia, North America, and Europe. In July 2003, 8,437 cases of SARS, with 813 deaths, were reported worldwide. There have been no reported cases of SARS since 2004. To keep the danger of SARS in perspective, compare these statistics to those of influenza or the flu. Each year about 114,000 people in the US alone are hospitalized, and about 36,000 people die from the flu. While currently there is no known cure for the SARS virus, scientists and researchers are working every day to understand better the cause of the disease and to help reduce the risk of contracting SARS.
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