Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

February 1, 2017 at 11:57pm

Health experts are concerned that SARS could re-emerge. It is important to remain aware of the symptoms and risk factors for SARS and know how to minimize your risk. Below are answers to some frequently asked question and additional SARS links.

There is still a great deal about SARS that remains unknown. It will take time to discover how to diagnose SARS rapidly and how to prevent it or treat it successfully.


People with SARS develop a fever, followed by respiratory symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. In some cases, the symptoms become increasingly severe. Patients may require oxygen support and mechanical help to breathe. Other symptoms of SARS may include muscle aches, sore throat and diarrhea.

Minimize Risk

At this time, the only known risk factors for developing SARS are recent travel to areas where SARS is spreading locally or recent close contact with someone who has SARS or is ill and has been in an area where SARS is spreading locally.The health effects of SARS may be more severe for people who are older or have an underlying medical condition. The following precautions will help to minimize the risk of SARS, not only for you and your family, but also for others:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water;
  • If traveling, check the Health Canada travel advisories for information about regions affected by SARS;
  • Refrain from donating blood for at least 21 days if you have been in a region outside Canada currently affected by SARS, or have been in a site identified by public health authorities as at-risk for SARS; and,
  • Call ahead to your health care provider to seek advice if you feel you have the symptoms of SARS.
  • Above all, remain calm yet alert.


Q. How is SARS spread?

  • A. SARS is caused by a previously unknown type of corona virus. In addition, there may be factors related to the infected person`s immune system or factors in the environment that affect the symptoms and severity of SARS. Normally, corona viruses cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory symptoms, such as the common cold. SARS is spread through close contact with someone who is infected with the SARS corona virus. Examples of close contact include living in the same household, providing care to someone with SARS, or having direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of someone infected by SARS.

Q. Are people with SARS contagious before they develop symptoms?

  • A. To date, it appears that people with SARS are not contagious until they develop symptoms. This may take up to ten days from the time they were in close contact with someone who has SARS.

Q. Will a flu shot protect me against SARS?

  • A. A flu shot does not offer any protection against SARS or other respiratory viruses. If you experience flu-like symptoms and have been vaccinated against the flu, you may still have the flu or another common respiratory virus. Flu shots will help to reduce the number of severe cases of flu coming to emergency rooms and may help to reduce the number of false alarms about SARS.

Q. Is there a test for SARS?

  • A. There is no quick test for SARS. If you have symptoms that could be SARS, your doctor or health care professional will decide how to manage your case, including whether you should be isolated, based on your specific symptoms and risk factors for contracting SARS. If necessary, your doctor will perform specific tests for the SARS virus.