The main symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever greater than 100.4°F (38.0°C)
- Other breathing symptoms
The most common symptoms are:
- Chills and shaking
- Cough, usually starts 2 to 3 days after other symptoms
- Muscle aches
Less common symptoms include:
- Cough that produces phlegm (sputum)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
In some people, the lung symptoms get worse during the second week of illness, even after the fever has stopped.
Initial symptoms are flu-like and may include fever, myalgia, lethargy symptoms, cough, sore throat, and other nonspecific symptoms. The only symptom common to all patients appears to be a fever above 38 °C (100 °F). SARS may eventually lead to shortness of breath and/orpneumonia; either direct viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia.
SARS may be suspected in a patient who has:
- Any of the symptoms, including a fever of 38 °C (100 °F) or higher, and
- Either a history of:
- Contact (sexual or casual) with someone with a diagnosis of SARS within the last 10 daysOR
- Travel to any of the regions identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as areas with recent local transmission of SARS (affected regions as of 10 May 2003 were parts of China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the town of Geraldton, Ontario, Canada).
For a case to be considered probable, a chest X-ray must be positive for atypical pneumonia orrespiratory distress syndrome.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has added the category of "laboratory confirmed SARS" for patients who would otherwise be considered "probable" but who have not yet had a positive chest X-ray changes, but have tested positive for SARS based on one of the approved tests (ELISA, immunofluorescence or PCR).
When it comes to the chest X-ray the appearance of SARS is not always uniform but generally appears as an abnormality with patchy infiltrates.
There is no vaccine for SARS to date and isolation and quarantine remain the most effective means to prevent the spread of SARS. Other preventative measures include:
- Disinfection of surfaces for fomites
- Wearing a surgical mask
- Avoiding contact with bodily fluids
- Washing the personal items of someone with SARS in hot, soapy water (eating utensils, dishes, bedding, etc.)
- Keeping children with symptoms home from school
People with SARS must be isolated, preferably in negative pressure rooms, with complete barrier nursing precautions taken for any necessary contact with these patients.
Some of the more serious damage caused by SARS may be due to the body's own immune system reacting in what is known as cytokine storm