Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

  • Medical Author:

    Sandra Gonzalez Gompf, MD, FACP is a U.S. board-certified Infectious Disease subspecialist. Dr. Gompf received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Miami, and a Medical Degree from the University of South Florida. Dr. Gompf completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida followed by subspecialty fellowship training there in Infectious Diseases under the directorship of Dr. John T. Sinnott, IV.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What are SARS symptoms and signs?

Symptoms begin two to seven days after acquiring the virus. Initially, the illness resembles influenza and lasts for up to one week. Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and poor appetite. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are less common. This period is followed by a syndrome suggesting atypical pneumonia, including dry cough and progressively worsening to severe shortness of breath (dyspnea) and inability to maintain oxygenation (hypoxia). Progression may be rapid or it may take several days. Severely affected people develop a potentially fatal form of respiratory failure, known as adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARD or ARDS). In addition to the attacking the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs, the virus also infects other organs in the body, causing kidney failure, inflammation of the heart sac (pericarditis), or severe systemic bleeding from disruption of clotting system (disseminated intravascular coagulation), reduced lymphocyte cell counts (lymphopenia), inflammation of the arteries (vasculitis), and inflammation of the gut with diarrhea. People with compromised immune systems such as severe rheumatoid arthritis or organ transplantation may not experience respiratory symptoms but can have fever or diarrhea.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/25/2015

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