Education Materials

Mount Sinai Hospital is a University of Toronto patient care, teaching, and research centre.
Mount Sinai Hospital is a University of Toronto patient care, teaching, and research centre.

Frequently Asked Questions

» What is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)?

SARS is a severe form of pneumonia, where infected individuals develop a fever, followed by respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. In some cases, the respiratory symptoms become increasingly severe, and these individuals will require oxygen support and mechanical ventilation.

» Who is at Risk?

  • Most of the cases worldwide have occurred in health care workers who have cared for SARS patients, or are close family members who have had direct contact with an ill relative. There are currently no active cases of SARS in the world.
  • There have been a few reported incidences where laboratory workers who were conducting experiments with the SARS virus accidentally contracted the disease through poor adherence to laboratory safety practices.

» How is SARS spread?

It is believed the illness is spread via droplets from coughing and sneezing or from direct face-to-face contact with an ill person. Transmission of disease has occurred in household and hospital settings.

» How is SARS treated?

Patients with SARS were treated in hospital with antiviral agents and received supportive care. Cases were kept in isolation rooms and hospital staff were using appropriate precautions.

» What do we know about the cause of SARS?

SARS is caused by infection with a previously unrecognized coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). With the exception of SARS-CoV, coronaviruses generally only cause mild upper-respiratory illnesses in humans.

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