Traveldoctor - International Travel Health

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The virus is transmitted from person to person by droplets through the air.
The incubation period is usually 3 to 5 days with 2 to 7 days as the extremes.
The disease is contagious, but do in most cases require close contact to infect another person. In the 2003 outbreak, hospital staff was particularly at risk, however, some people seem to be very contagious ("super-spreaders") and it is not clear what determine whether a person in more or less contagious.
The SARS Coronavirus can stay alive for a least 2 days outside the human body, and infection can therefore happen though virus on doorhandles and tables, where the next person pick up the virus by touching the surface.

Spread of SARS virus
SARS virus is not as contagious as the common cold virus family or flu virus. During the outbreak in the first half of 2004 the infection originated in Guangdong province, China, and spread to the rest of China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Canada.

The SARS Corona virus has been found in some animals in Guangdong province, and it is a possibility that the virus is present all the time in animals. If this is the case further outbreaks may occur from the animal reservoir.


Dry cough, feber above 38C, breathlessness.
Headacke, muscle pains, rash and diarrhoea has been described but are not typical.
The overall mortality was 3.5%, but was not limited to the lederly or people with chronic diseases.

An X.ray of the lungs show pneumonia in both lungs.
Travel to an area with a know outbreak or where the virus is found naturally (China).
Detection of antibodies to SARS Coronavirus. Note that the tests may show so called "false positive" results.
Detection of DNA from SARS Coronavirus.

There is no specific treatment. No anti-viral drugs has show any effect aganst SARS Coronavirus.
Treatment is supportive by assisting the respiration.

It is always difficult to prevent air-borne infections.
It is important for the traveller not to be admitted to hospital in an area with an outbreak. The risk of infection is most likely to be much higher if you are quarantined with suspected case.

Travels to areas with SARS and possible SARS
The previous outbreak was declared over by the 26 June 2003.
In areas with an ongoing outbreak the traveller risk being quarantined if suspected of SARS for example having fever or an upper respiratory tract infection. Quaratine can not be appealed and your embassy or a lawyer can not help you.

Further information: W.H.O. SARS

Edited 17. December 2008