Severe respiratory syndrome or SARS is a respiratory tract infection caused by SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV ) . The initial symptoms are similar to influenza, but can worsen quickly.

SARS was first discovered in Guangdong, China, in 2002 and was only identified in early 2003. The disease then spread rapidly to various countries.

According to a report released by the WHO on the spread of SARS in 2003, there were as many as 8,098 people worldwide who were affected by SARS and 774 of them died.

SARS is an infectious disease. Transmission can occur when a person accidentally inhales saliva splashes released by SARS patients when sneezing or coughing.

Although caused by the same group of viruses and causing similar symptoms, SARS and COVID-19 are two different conditions. Therefore, if you experience SARS symptoms, immediately check with a doctor to confirm the condition. Click the link below so that you can be directed to the nearest health facility:

  • Rapid Antibody Test
  • Antigen Swab  (Rapid Antigen Test)
  • PCR

Causes of SARS

SARS is caused by one type of coronavirus known as SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). The coronavirus itself is a group of viruses that can infect the respiratory tract. When infected with this virus, sufferers will experience mild or severe respiratory problems.

Experts suspect that the virus that causes SARS comes from bats and mongooses. This virus then mutates into a new virus that can be transmitted from animals to humans and between humans.

The SARS virus can infect humans through various ways, namely:

  • Accidentally inhaling the saliva of a SARS patient who coughs or sneezes
  • Touching the mouth, eyes, or nose with hands that have been exposed to the saliva of SARS patients
  • Sharing the use of eating and drinking utensils with SARS patients

A person can also be infected with SARS if they touch items contaminated by the faeces of patients with this disease, especially when patients do not wash their hands cleanly after defecating.

SARS risk factors

SARS is more at risk of occurring in someone who has close contact with the sufferer, for example being in an area experiencing a SARS outbreak, living in the same house as the sufferer, or health workers treating the sufferer.

Symptoms of SARS

Symptoms of SARS usually appear 2–7 days after a person is infected with the SARS-CoV virus, but can also appear as early as 10 days later. The symptoms of this virus infection can vary from person to person, but in general symptoms will appear in the form of:

  • Fever , generally more than 38°C
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • The body gets tired easily
  • Decreased appetite
  • Shivering
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

As previously mentioned, the symptoms of SARS are similar to the symptoms of the flu , but can worsen quickly. In most cases, SARS will develop into pneumonia , which is inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs.

In addition, SARS patients can also experience a lack of oxygen in the body's cells and tissues ( hypoxia ).

When should you go to the doctor?

Immediately see a doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above, especially if you have just returned from a SARS endemic region. SARS is a serious disease that can cause death if not treated immediately.

SARS patients who have been allowed to go home after being treated in hospital need to independently check their body temperature twice a day. If his body temperature rises to 38°C or more, the patient should immediately return to the hospital for examination.

Diagnosis of SARS

To diagnose SARS, the doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms, history of traveling to SARS-endemic regions, and health history.

After that, the doctor will perform a thorough physical examination, including vital signs (temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and pulse) as well as a thorax or chest examination.

Further, to ascertain whether the patient is infected with SARS or not, the doctor will perform several supporting examinations as follows:

Blood test

At this examination, the doctor will take a sample of the patient's blood to be examined in the laboratory. The blood test aims to find out the number of blood cells in general, measure the level of electrolytes, and measure the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood ( blood gas analysis ).

Blood tests are also performed to detect the presence of antibodies as the body's response to the entry of the virus that causes SARS.


The doctor will do a chest X-ray to see the condition of the patient's lungs. Through a chest X -ray , the doctor can detect signs of pneumonia or deflated lungs (collapse). The doctor can also perform a CT scan to detect disorders in the lungs.

Sputum culture

Sputum culture is done by taking a sample of sputum or mucus from the patient's nose or throat. Next, the doctor will conduct a laboratory examination to detect the presence of the virus that causes SARS in the sample.

RT-PCR test

Reverse polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is performed to detect SARS virus RNA in blood, sputum, urine, or patient stool samples. This test is performed twice to ensure that the patient is infected with SARS.

SARS treatment

SARS treatment aims to relieve symptoms and prevent the transmission of SARS to others. Until now, research to find a SARS vaccine is still ongoing.

SARS patients should be treated in hospital and isolated from other patients. While being treated in the hospital, the patient will be given medicines in the form of:

  • Analgesic-antipyretic drugs, cough medicine, and shortness of breath medicine, to relieve symptoms
  • Antiviral drugs , such as lopinavir, ritonavir, or remdesivir, to inhibit the development of the virus
  • Antibiotic medicine , to overcome bacterial infections that occur when SARS patients suffer from pneumonia
  • High-dose corticosteroid drugs , to reduce swelling in the lungs

In addition to being given drugs, patients with severe symptoms can also be given additional oxygen through a nasal cannula (tube), oxygen mask, or endotracheal tube (ETT).

Complications of SARS

SARS is a serious disease that must be dealt with quickly. When treated late, SARS can cause dangerous complications, such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • short of breath
  • Heart failure
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disorders

Prevention of SARS

There are several ways that can be done to prevent SARS, namely:

  • Do not travel to SARS endemic areas. If you have to travel to the area, take care of your health, avoid crowded centers, use a mask, and follow the protocols or rules in force in that country.
  • Apply hand hygiene . Wash hands with running water and soap. If not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands.

When you experience SARS-like symptoms, take the following steps to prevent the spread of SARS to others:

  • Immediately go to the hospital IGD for examination and treatment.
  • Avoid close contact with other people. Tell family or friends not to visit until 10 days after symptoms disappear.
  • Wear a mask and gloves, especially when there are other people around, to reduce the risk of transmission to others.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then immediately dispose of the tissue in the trash. If there is no tissue, cover your mouth and nose with your elbows, then immediately wash your elbows and arms with soap and water.
  • Do not share the use of eating and drinking utensils with other people, and wash clothes separately from other people's clothes.
  • Wash your hands regularly, especially after covering your mouth with your hands when sneezing or coughing and after using the toilet.
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