Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What are the symptoms of SARS?

Usual symptoms include:

  • high fever (at least 100.4°)
  • headache
  • overall feeling of discomfort and body aches
  • mild respiratory symptoms (cough, runny or stuff nose)
  • diarrhea
  • dry cough (after 2-7 days)

How is SARS diagnosed?

In areas where there is a known outbreak of SARS, healthcare providers will diagnose the disease based on symptoms and whether or not the person has been in close contact with someone who has the virus. Sometimes, healthcare providers also will run lab tests to confirm that the virus is SARS.

In areas where there is not a known outbreak of SARS, healthcare providers should consider SARS if a patient has pneumonia (confirmed by an X-ray) and other details about the patient: 

  • if he or she recently traveled to areas where SARS outbreaks originated (mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan) or close contact with people who have recently traveled to those areas or have SARS symptoms
  • works in a job where employees are at risk for exposure to the virus that causes SARS, including having direct patient contact or a worker in a laboratory that contains live virus that causes SARS
  • is part of a cluster of cases of atypical pneumonia without another diagnosis

How is SARS treated?

Patients with SARS are treated mainly for pneumonia. There are no generally effective treatments for most types of viral pneumonia. People with severe cases of SARS and pneumonia may be hospitalized. Healthcare providers may treat symptoms to lower fever or ease breathing, using supplemental oxygen and drugs called bronchodilators, which open airways.