SARS: What is It and How to Spot It

3 mins
SARS: What is It and How to Spot It

Respiratory diseases are those that affect a person’s breathing functions. Your lungs, airways, blood vessels, and other organs and muscles are all part of the respiratory system. When a disease like SARS attacks, it strikes a person’s capacity to breathe. But just what is SARS? And is it still a threat?

What is SARS and How Did it Originate?

SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome. It first appeared in China, in November 2002, and was quickly identified as a coronavirus. Named after a crown-shaped hat the virus particles appear to wear under a microscope, coronaviruses are also responsible for causing the common cold. 

Many people believe SARS originated in Asian wild animal markets. These areas, also known as wet markets, sell wild animals like snakes, boars, and bats for pets and/or consumption. Though it is possible SARS came from one of these open markets, it has not been proven.

Once SARS originated it spread extremely fast. Within months, SARS had been transmitted around the world. 

How SARS Cov 2 spread

The virus that causes the disease Covid-19 is directly related to SARS. In fact, the 2002-2004 outbreak of the SARS disease was caused by the virus known as SARS-Cov. Covid-19, a mutation of that original strain of virus, is sometimes referred to as SARS-Cov-2.

Both SARS and Covid are transmitted by airborne pathogens. In its early stages in 2002, people and animals infected with SARS spread the disease through microscopic droplets of saliva. Similar to the way a person transmits the common cold, sneezing, coughing, talking, and general breathing passed SARS along. SARS was also transmitted by settling on tabletops and other shared surfaces such as doorknobs and telephones. 

By the time scientists got a handle on the disease, it had spread to other countries.

Is SARS Still a Threat Today? 

Though SARS was eradicated in 2004, remnants of the virus are still very much alive in Covid-19 and other diseases. SARS and Covid have similar symptoms that include but are not limited to:

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches 
  • Persistent cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Persistent tiredness 
  • Overall feeling of discomfort

Preventative Treatment for SARS

A total of 8,098 people were affected by SARS during the 2002-2004 outbreak. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 774 people died. In the United States eight people were infected, all of which survived. The disease mainly affected otherwise healthy adults aged 25-70. In rare instances, SARS affected children under the age of 15.

Though SARS is not currently a threat in the world, prevention of respiratory diseases spreading is important. 

  • Wash your hands - Washing thoroughly and frequently with soap and hot water is one of the best ways to prevent the transmission of viruses. 
  • Wear a mask - With the appearance of Covid-19, the world became accustomed to wearing masks in public. Masks prevent the spread of airborne viruses by covering the mouth and nose.
  • Wear disposable gloves - People in contact with other people’s bodily fluids (especially nurses, doctors, etc.) should wear disposable gloves to prevent the spread of disease. 
  • Disinfect shared surfaces - Wear disposable gloves when wiping down shared surfaces with household disinfectant.

Further Information on SARS

Respiratory diseases such as SARS and Covid-19 spread quickly. Any virus that attacks the respiratory system can be especially harmful to elderly patients and patients with preexisting respiratory illnesses. If you suspect you have contracted a respiratory virus, take the necessary precautions and consult with a medical professional. 

At BASS Medical, our staff is well-equipped to handle all respiratory conditions. If you have further questions about SARS, Covid-19 or any other medical issue, Bass Medical can help. Contact us today for a consultation.