SARS, Prevention and Protection
Personal and Household Protection
What should I do if I think I have SARS?
If you are ill with a fever of
over 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.
What has CDC recommended to prevent transmission of SARS in households?
infection control recommendations
for patients with suspected SARS in the household. The basic precautions
outlined in this document include the following:
- Infection control precautions should be continued for SARS patients for 10
days after respiratory
symptoms and fever are gone. SARS patients should limit interactions outside
the home and should not go to work, school, out-of-home day care, or other
public areas during the 10-day period.
- During this 10-day period, all members of the household with a SARS patient should carefully follow
recommendations for hand hygiene, such as frequent hand
washing or the use of alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Each patient with SARS should cover his or her mouth
and nose with a tissue before
sneezing or coughing. If possible, a person recovering from SARS should wear a
surgical mask during close contact with uninfected persons. If the patient is
unable to wear a surgical mask, other people in the home should wear one when
in close contact with the patient.
- Disposable gloves should be considered for any contact
with body fluids from a SARS patient. However, immediately after activities
involving contact with body fluids, gloves should be removed and discarded,
and hands should be washed. Gloves should not be washed or reused, and are not
intended to replace proper hand hygiene.
- SARS patients should avoid sharing eating utensils,
towels, and bedding with other members of the household, although these items
can be used by others after routine cleaning, such as washing or laundering
with soap and hot water.
- Common household cleaners are sufficient for
disinfecting toilets, sinks, and other surfaces touched by patients with SARS,
but the cleaners must be used frequently.
- Other members of the household need not restrict their outside
activities unless they develop symptoms of SARS, such as a fever or respiratory
What has CDC recommended to prevent transmission of SARS in the health care
Transmission of SARS to health care workers appears to have occurred
after close contact with symptomatic individuals before recommended appropriate
infection control precautions were implemented. CDC has developed
infection control recommendations for the management of exposures to SARS in the
health care and other institutional settings.
Health care facilities should be vigilant in conducting
active surveillance for fever or respiratory symptoms among care givers with
unprotected exposure to SARS patients. Health care workers who develop fever or
respiratory symptoms during the 10 days following an unprotected exposure to a
SARS patient should not report for duty. Such workers should stay home and
report symptoms to the appropriate facility point of contact (e.g., infection
control or occupational health) immediately. Exclusion from duty should be
continued for 10 days after the resolution of fever and respiratory symptoms. During this period, infected
workers should avoid contact with people both in the facility and in the
Exclusion from duty is not recommended for an exposed health care worker if
they do not have fever or respiratory symptoms; however, the worker should
report any unprotected exposure to SARS patients to the appropriate facility
point of contact immediately.
What precautions should health care facilities follow regarding visits by
close contacts of SARS patients?
Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004
Close contacts (e.g., family
members or other
members of the household) of SARS patients are at risk for infection. Health
care facilities should implement a system to screen for fever or respiratory
symptoms among such contacts who visit the facility. Close contacts with fever
or respiratory symptoms should not be allowed to enter the health care facility
as visitors and should be educated about this policy. Health care facilities
should educate all visitors about use of
infection control precautions
when visiting SARS patients and should emphasize the importance of following
This information has been provided with the kind permission
of the Centers For Disease Control