The Facts on SARS
SARS, a highly contagious disease that originated in China, has killed more than 200 people and infected nearly 3,900 others in 25 countries.  The majority of SARS-related deaths have occurred within the Pacific Rim, but more cases are cropping up in North America—nearly 200 nonfatal cases of SARS have been reported in the United States, and 14 Canadians have died from the disease.

Get the latest SARS news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But before you whip yourself into a panic, read these SARS facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What is SARS?
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness that has recently been reported in
Asia, North America and Europe.

What are the symptoms of SARS?

The illness usually begins with a fever (measured temperature greater than 100.4º F). The fever is sometimes associated with chills or other symptoms, including headache, general feeling of discomfort and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms at the outset.  After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and have trouble breathing.

How Does SARS Spread?
The primary way that SARS appears to spread is by close person-to-person contact. Most cases of SARS have involved people who cared for or lived with someone with SARS, or had direct contact with infectious material (for example, respiratory secretions) from a person who has SARS.

Potential ways in which SARS can be spread include touching the skin of other people or objects that are contaminated with infectious droplets and then touching your eye(s), nose, or mouth. This can happen when someone who is sick with SARS coughs or sneezes droplets onto themselves, other people, or nearby surfaces. It also is possible that SARS can be spread more broadly through the air or by other ways that are currently not known.

Who is at Risk for SARS?
Cases of SARS continue to be reported mainly among people who have had direct close contact with an infected person, such as those sharing a household with a SARS patient and health-care workers who did not use infection control procedures while taking care of a SARS patient. In the
United States, there is no indication of community spread at this time. CDC continues to monitor this situation very closely.

na; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">How long is a person with SARS infectious to others?
Information to date suggests that people are most likely to be infectious when they have symptoms, such as fever or cough. However, it is not known how long before or after their symptoms begin that patients with SARS might be able to transmit the disease to others.

What should I do if I think I have SARS?
If you are ill with a fever greater than 100.4°F (>38.0°C) that is accompanied by a cough or difficulty breathing or that progresses to a cough and/or difficulty breathing, you should consult a health-care provider. To help your health-care provider make a diagnosis, tell him or her about any recent travel to regions where cases of SARS have been reported and whether you were in contact with someone who had these symptoms.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention