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severe acute respiratory syndrome,

communicable viral disease that can progress to a potentially fatal pneumonia. The first symptoms of SARS are usually a high fever, headache and body aches, sore throat, and mild respiratory symptoms; diarrhea may occur. A dry cough and shortness of breath typically develop two to seven days after the first symptoms, and in most persons pneumonia develops in a lobe of the lungs. In 10%–20% of all patients, the pneumonia spreads to other lobes, and death occurs in about 9% of all cases. The death rate is higher among older persons. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus that causes the disease.

SARS is caused by a coronaviruscoronavirus,
any of a group (family Coronaviridae, subfamily Orthocoronavirinae) of enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses that have a crownlike or sunlike appearance under an electron microscope due to the presence of spikelike or club-shaped projections on their surface.
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, SARS-CoV, one of a group of viruses that are responsible for about one third of all cases of the common coldcold, common,
acute viral infection of the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, often involving the sinuses. The typical sore throat, sneezing, and fatigue may be accompanied by body aches, headache, low fever, and chills.
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. The variety that causes SARS had not been previously identified, and may have been transmitted to humans from civetscivet
or civet cat,
any of a large group of mostly nocturnal mammals of the Old World family Viverridae (civet family), which also includes the mongoose. Civets are not true cats, but the civet family is related to the cat family (Felidae).
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 or bats. A number of studies have suggested that bats were the ultimate source of the virus and civets were intermediate hosts, but other studies have suggested that the virus jumped to humans directly from bats. Infection with SARS mainly occurs when a person in close contact with someone who has the disease is exposed to exhaled droplets. The spread of the disease has been controlled by isolating infected patients and quarantining those exposed to them.

The disease apparently first occurred in Nov., 2002, in Foshan, Guangdong prov., China, but provincial authorities withheld information about it, and when it spread to Beijing local authorities there acted similarly. In Feb., 2003, the World Health Organization first noted reports of cases of atypical pneumonia from China, but Chinese officials did not begin cooperating fully with international experts until April. SARS ultimately spread to 29 countries on five continents, and affected the economies of China, Hong Kong, and Toronto, where cases were the highest; Taiwan and Singapore were also hard-hit. In all, 8,096 cases were confirmed, with 774 deaths. No new cases have been reported since 2004. The rapid international spread of the 2002–3 outbreak was facilitated by air travel and the lack of prompt, early information about SARS from Chinese officials.


See study by T. Abraham (2004).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



an urban-type settlement in Oktiabr’skii Raion, Perm’ Oblast, RSFSR. It is located on the upper Sars River (Kama River basin), 7 km from the Chad railroad station on the Kazan-Sverdlovsk line. Sars has a woodworking plant.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


severe acute respiratory syndrome; a severe viral infection of the lungs characterized by high fever, a dry cough, and breathing difficulties. It is contagious, having an airborne mode of transmission
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Bush has signed an executive order triggering a World War I-era law that lets him add SARS to the ranks of such diseases as cholera, smallpox, and the plague.
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In October 2003, Tong Zeng, a Chinese lawyer and a volunteer in a 1998 Chinese-American medical cooperation program, published a book that again speculated that SARS could be a biological weapon developed by the United States against China.
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Every institution must participate and have its SAR program audited.
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