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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

SARS is a severe respiratory disease caused by SARS coronavirus (SARS CoV). It was first recognised in Guangdong Province in China in November 2002, and spread worldwide before being contained by 5 July 2003.

Between July 2003 and May 2004, four small and rapidly contained outbreaks of SARS have been reported; three of which appear to have been linked to laboratory releases of SARS-CoV. The source of the fourth outbreak remains unclear, although epidemiological investigations focused on an animal source. The possibility of SARS re-emergence remains and there is a need for continuing vigilance.

China's latest SARS outbreak has been contained, but biosafety concerns remain -
24 May 2004

The World Health Organisation announced on 18 May that the chain of human-to-human transmission in China's latest SARS outbreak appears to have been broken as it has been more than 3 weeks since the last case was placed in isolation.
WHO experts and the Chinese authorities are continuing to investigate the exact cause of the outbreak, and have yet to identify a single infectious source or single procedural error at the National Institute of Virology in Beijing, where the investigation is centred. Further information is available from WHO.

Clinicians and other healthcare professionals should remain vigilant to the possibility of SARS, even though the threat to the UK remains low at this time. Refer to guidance documents for the current/inter-epidemic period