Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome is triggered by a group of organisms called coronaviruses. Other variants of the coronaviruses are the usual source of minor to moderate cases of upper respiratory tract infections in both children as well as adults. The incubation phase is usually 2-7 days.

What are the indications?

Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a highly contagious disease. In most instances, it starts with high fever. An individual with the infection can develop other symptoms which includes:

Severe acute respiratory syndrome
In case a child develops any of these symptoms, especially difficulty breathing that might be an indication of severe acute respiratory syndrome or other infections like pneumonia, a doctor should be consulted.
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Malaise
  • Shortness of breath

In some cases, a dry cough develops after several days. Over time, pneumonia develops in most individuals.

When to consult a doctor

In case a child develops any of these symptoms, especially difficulty breathing that might be an indication of severe acute respiratory syndrome or other infections like pneumonia, a doctor should be consulted.

A doctor should be seen if the child develops respiratory symptoms after travelling to an area where there have been reported cases of SARS or has been directly exposed to anyone suspected with the condition.

Management

The treatment for severe acute respiratory syndrome is the same among individuals with viral pneumonia and usually supportive. It might involve administration of oxygen while hospitalized.

Certain antiviral medications are under testing for use but there is still no specific medication proven to be effective.

Preventive measures

Severe acute respiratory syndrome can spread via close contact with an individual who has the infection, usually from coughing or sneezing. Children can also acquire the virus if objects or surfaces contaminated by the virus was touched.

The risk for SARS can also be reduced by observing regular hand washing using warm water and soap. Even today, there is no available vaccination to prevent the condition.

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