Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome—known as SARS—is a virus that was identified during an outbreak in Asia in 2003. SARS is caused by a group of viruses called the coronaviruses. SARS can be moderate to severe; most people with SARS develop pneumonia. Scientists believe the main way that SARS seems to spread is by close person-to-person contact, when someone infected with SARS coughs or sneezes.

The SARS outbreak of 2003 sickened more than 8,000 people worldwide but primarily in Asia. Only eight cases of SARS were confirmed the U.S.; all of those individuals had traveled to areas of the world with SARS.  The World Health Organization tracks SARS and works with individual countries to help prevent outbreaks and to educate the public and healthcare workers about the virus.