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SARS - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome


Contains brief outline of this worrying new disease .The Links at the end of the article provide access to updated information on the epidemic.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome is a new pneumonia-like infection. It is now thought that it is due to a coronavirus which has been fully identified and named the SARS virus.

To date there have been around 400 deaths and 5462 reported cases worldwide . The illness was first noted in the Southern Provinces of China, and has since spread mainly to Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore, although there are reported cases in 13 other countries.

There is currently an international effort to contain and track the spread of this illness. At present there is no definitive treatment,but most people do make a full recovery. The mortality rate (risk of death) is around 6 percent of cases. The World Health Organization are coordinating effort s to contain the illness.

Incubation Symptoms and spread

Incubation- this ranges from 2-10 days after exposure.

The following symptoms are characteristic of SARS

  • high fever (>38C)



  • respiratory symptoms e.g. cough, shortness of breath.



  • recent travel to affected areas or close contact with a person diagnosed with SARS.


If you are concerned you may have SARS, Please telephone your General Practitioner or Local Hospital.


This is thought to be by close contact with droplets from an infected person who is coughing. Almost all reported cases have occurred in close personal contacts of cases - e.g. family members or health care workers


The New Zealand Ministry of Health has recommended that people with nonessential travel plans to affected areas (mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Hanoi, Vietnam) should postpone travel until further notice.

Please check the websites below for up to date information.


See also:

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