SARS - scare or serious danger?

SARS worries people, especially because they know so little about it. SARS is the abbreviation for "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome" and refers to an infectious respiratory disease of currently unknown cause. SARS is rarely deadly; with optimal medical care only in 5% of cases.

How is the disease transmitted?

In the previously known cases, the disease was transmitted almost exclusively by very close contact with the patient, for example, nurses in hospitals or relatives or friends of the patients. The transmission path is based on a droplet infection, which means that (eg due to coughing or sneezing) pathogen-containing saliva is sprayed. But even a contact infection (smearing germ-containing material) is considered possible or infection via the eye conjunctiva.

Who is at risk?

Endangered are only people who have visited regions affected by SARS in the last 10 days or have been in contact with infected persons who have been in these regions before the disease and then have pneumonia.

No panic?

However, flu-like symptoms after traveling to these regions do not necessarily mean that you are infected with SARS. Because even in the affected areas spreads currently a flu outbreak. It could also be a "harmless" flu. In addition, it is known that between infection and outbreak of SARS usually only four days pass. Those coming from high-risk countries should observe their state of health up to 10 days after their return.


The onset of SARS infection is similar to flu. Those affected feel uncomfortable, have body aches and get a high fever within a short time. Soon after, a dry cough occurs, which can worsen and lead to respiratory distress. In addition, cervical and muscle pain can set, in the further course of the disease can go into pneumonia. SARS may also be accompanied by headache, muscle stiffness, loss of appetite, nausea, confusion, rash or diarrhea.

How is the disease treated?

There are currently no vaccines and no medications to help against the condition. Therefore, only the symptoms can be treated.

Are there any precautions?

For those who travel to the affected regions, for their own safety, avoid crowding and personal contact (eg shaking hands) and, of course, the contact with any ill persons. As a protective measure (eg in public transport) simple respirators are worn - this should be followed by the information provided by the local health authorities. The thorough washing of the hands after personal contact, the use of sanitary facilities and before food intake is another important measure.

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