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SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

 Just The Facts
What is SARS?

SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and is a severe form of pneumonia (lung infection) caused by a virus. A small number of people with SARS can become severely ill. For most Canadians, the risk of getting SARS is very low. However, it is important to know the symptoms and risk factors of SARS, so you can take steps to reduce your risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of SARS? 
Symptoms of SARS usually begin 10 days after direct contact with an infected person.
They include a fever of 38°C or 100.4°F and any of the following:
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Severe fatigue

  • A severe headache

  • Dry cough, Shortness of breath

  • Diarrhea may occur

How is SARS spread?

SARS is spread by direct, close contact with someone who is ill and having symptoms of SARS. “Close contact” means to live with or to directly care for someone who is sick with SARS. SARS is transmitted when a person with SARS coughs or sneezes.
How is SARS treated?

People who are ill with SARS may have to stay in hospital until they recover. These patients are kept in isolation rooms away from other people in the hospital. This protects the patient and the health care workers. All hospital staff wear masks, gowns and gloves when caring for these patients. SARS patients may be treated with antibiotics, antiviral medications and/or steroids.

What can I do?
  • If you think you have been exposed to SARS or if you develop symptoms, see your doctor. Call ahead to let them know the reason you are coming.
  • Staying at home and limiting your contact with others is the best way to control the spread of SARS to family, friends and co-workers. If you do not develop symptoms within the ten-day period, you can end your quarantine (isolation).



SARS is a reportable disease and must be reported to the Local Medical Officer of Health.
The Medical Officer of Health will decide when a child with SARS is allowed to return to school.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Health Information Line
at the Brant County Health Unit 519-753-4937 extension 259
Adapted from Toronto Public Health Unit and Health Canada
Revised: 09/2009
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 June 2010 )