Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program
Airborne and Direct Contact Diseases - SARS
SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, is a viral respiratory disease caused by SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). It was first reported in 2002, with the last reported cases occurring in 2004. The federal CDC and its partners, including the World Health Organization, continue to monitor the SARS situation globally. Any new updates on disease transmission and SARS preparedness activities will be posted at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/situation.htm
SARS symptoms resemble those of other community-acquired pneumonias, such as high fever, chills, headache, and mild respiratory symptoms. SARS patients may develop a dry cough. Most patients develop pneumonia, and 10-20% require mechanical assistance to breathe. Special lab testing is required to identify the virus, and would be done at the Health and Environmental Testing Lab under the guidance of the federal CDC.
SARS appears to be spread primarily by droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can travel short distances (generally up to 3 feet) and be deposited on the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes of persons who are nearby. The virus can also be spread by hand contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, followed by touching the mouth, nose, or eye(s). SARS-CoV might possibly be spread by an airborne route, or other ways that are not now known.
Spread of SARS can be reduced by covering cough and sneezes, limiting contact with infected persons,
limiting travel to areas where SARS has been reported, and by use of special masks. Hospitalized patients
would be placed in special isolation rooms to protect other patients, staff, and visitors.
No SARS cases have been reported in Maine. SARS must be reported immediately on recognition or strong suspicion of disease to 1-800-821-5821.
For more information:
Contact your healthcare provider or local health center.
Contact the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention 1-800-821-5821.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov ) is another excellent source of information.
If traveling, check the CDC travelers’ health website for information about SARS disease reports or alerts for your destination. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
The Public Health Agency of Canada www.publichealth.gc.ca has information regarding the SARS outbreak of 2003 in Canada.