U.S. National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health
Skip navigation
MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You
Contact Us FAQs Site Map About MedelinePlus

Printer-friendly version E-mail this page to a friend
Illustration of the respiratory system
  • Related Topics

  • Go Local

    • Services and providers for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in the U.S.
  • National Institutes of Health

  • Languages

Also called: SARS

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. SARS was first reported in Asia in 2003. It spread worldwide over several months before the outbreak ended.

SARS can be life-threatening. Symptoms include

  • A high fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • A dry cough
  • Pneumonia, later on

SARS seems to spread mainly by close person-to-person contact. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they send droplets of mucus or saliva that contain the virus through the air. You could get SARS if the droplets land on your mouth, nose or eyes. Kissing, touching, sharing utensils for eating and drinking, or talking with an infected person can also put you at risk. Frequently washing your hands with soap and water might help prevent infection if you travel to countries with SARS. There is no treatment for SARS. Scientists are testing treatments and vaccines.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Start Here
Basics Learn More Multimedia & Cool Tools
  • No links available
Research Reference Shelf For You
  • No links available