Type: Viral

Geography: Asia, North America, South America, Europe

Cases Per Year: 8,098

Fatality Rate: 9%

First Discovered: 2003 in Hong Kong; Marco Marra and his team in Vancouver mapped the genetic sequence

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was caused by a coronavirus, SARS-CoV, which is thought to have come from an animal reservoir such as masked palm civets. It was first reported in Southern China in November 2002 and caused the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic. Since 2004, there have been very few cases of SARS reported throughout the world, most of which occurred as a result of laboratory accidents. 

Transmission occurs from person to person mainyl during the second week of the illness. The virus causes an illness characterized by muscle pain, headache, fever, cough, dyspnea, and pneumonia. Dry cough, shortness of breath, and diarrhea are present in the first two weeks after infection. Severe cases can evolve rapidly, progressing to respiratory distress and requiring intensive care. The mortality rate for those over 60 years old was close to 50%. 

Photo: Virus particles (SARS-CoV-2) are shown emerging from the surface of cells – Electron micrograph.