Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
SARS is a respiratory disease with symptoms ranging from
mild illness to severe pneumonia. Signs and symptoms include fever (over
100.4° Fahrenheit) with cough or shortness of breath generally
appearing from two to ten days after exposure.
In Wisconsin, the Department of
Health Services has, through the Division of Public Health and the local
public health agencies, an established network of health care providers
who are on constant alert for influenza-like illness. This system has
adapted well to include detection of SARS-like symptoms.
Individuals who have been in
contact with a person suspected of having SARS should also be alert for
any respiratory symptoms. Health care providers should report any
unusual respiratory illness they see among their patients to the
Division of Public Health by calling 608-267-9003
Scientists at CDC and other
laboratories have detected a previously unrecognized coronavirus in
patients with SARS. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have a
halo or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under a microscope.
These viruses are a common cause of mild to moderate upper-respiratory
illness in humans and are associated with respiratory, gastrointestinal,
liver and neurologic disease in animals.
For a severe respiratory
illness to be SARS, there has to be a history of travel to a SARS
affected area, or close personal contact with a person with SARS, within
ten days before symptoms start.
In general, SARS begins with a
high fever (temperature greater than 100.4F [38.0C]). Other symptoms may
include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some
people also have mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. About 10 to 20
percent of patients have diarrhea. After 2 to 7 days, patients develop a
dry cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.
SARS is spread primarily by
close person-to-person contact. The virus that causes SARS is spread
through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or
sneezes. The virus also can spread when a person touches a surface or
object contaminated with these infectious droplets and then touches his
or her mouth, nose or eyes.
In the context of SARS, close
contact means having cared for or lived with someone with SARS or having
contact with respiratory secretions of a patient with SARS. Examples of
close contact include: kissing or hugging, sharing eating or drinking
utensils, or sustained interaction within 3 feet of someone infected
with SARS. Close contact does not include walking by an infected person
or sitting across from an infected person for a short period of time.
After exposure to SARS, the
incubation period is 2-10 days.
Individuals suspected of having
SARS should avoid contact with others, including staying home from work,
school or daycare, during their illness and for ten days after their
symptoms have disappeared.
Only those who have signs and
symptoms consistent with SARS need to be restricted from normal
Information for health
This is a Wisconsin Disease Surveillance Category I
Report IMMEDIATELY by TELEPHONE to
the patient's local public health department upon identification of a
confirmed or suspected case. The local health department shall then notify the
state epidemiologist immediately of any confirmed or suspected cases. Submit a
case report within 24 hours submit a case report electronically through the Wisconsin Electronic
Surveillance System (WEDSS), by mail or fax using an
Acute and Communicable Disease Case
(PDF, 167 KB), or by other means. DHS
Communicable Disease Reporting
evaluation, and reporting in the absence of SARS-CoV transmission
worldwide. (Exit DHS)
Wisconsin case reporting
and public health follow-up guidelines: SARS
EpiNet (PDF, 39 KB)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Exit DHS)
World Health Organization (WHO) (Exit DHS)
Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies
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June 13, 2012