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Symptoms and treatment of SARS

The main symptoms of SARS are:

  • high fever (higher than 38°C or 100°F)
  • dry cough
  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing

Usually the fever appears first, along with muscle aches, chills, and dry cough.
After 3 or 4 days, breathing problems grow more severe. About 80% to 90% of
infected people start to recover after 6 to 7 days. However, 10% to 20% go on
to develop very severe breathing problems and may need the help of a machine
to breathe. The risk of death is higher for this group, and appears to be linked
to the person’s pre-existing health conditions. People over 40 are more likely
to develop severe breathing problems.

If you think you may have SARS, see a doctor as soon as possible. Some hospitals
have set up special clinics for those who fear they have been exposed to SARS.
For more information, call Health Canada’s information line at 1-800-454-8302.

People with SARS require treatment in a hospital. Because the disease is severe,
treatment needs to be started based on symptoms, before the cause of the illness
has been confirmed.

First, people who are suspected of having SARS are placed in isolation to protect
other patients and health care workers. Then, treatment begins. So far, no medication
has been proven to cure SARS. Treatment may include antiviral medications (such
as ribavirin), antibiotics, steroids, and intravenous (into a vein) fluids.
Although antibiotics will not help with SARS (because it is believed to be caused
by a virus), they may be used in cases where the person has a bacterial infection
as well. People who experience severe breathing problems may need a machine
called a ventilator to help them breathe.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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