SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome, an infectious disease caused by the SARS-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV).


SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome, an infectious disease caused by the SARS-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Severe cases present with serious pneumonia and shortness of breath, sudden high fever and a dry cough. Measures to counter a new epidemic include social distancing and consistent hand hygiene to slow down transmission.


Incubation period: 2-10 days
Symptoms are similar to those of the seasonal flu (mild cases)

Complications (severe cases)

Causes and treatment


  • Pathogen
  • Infection
    • Droplets (short distance up to 1 metre, through sneezing, talking, coughing)
    • Smear and contact infection (surfaces, excretions, bodily fluids)
    • Air-borne infection (air conditioning)
    • Coronaviruses are found in various pets and wild animals in South-East Asia and can be transmitted to people (risk of an epidemic)
Risk factors for severe disease course

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • X-ray (lungs)
  • Blood test
  • Laboratory tests (search for pathogen)
Possible therapies

No way to treat the causes. Symptoms are treated.

  • For severe cases, the following medication is tried
    • Antiviral medication (virostatics)
    • Cortisol
    • Antibiotics
  • Supply of oxygen
  • Artificial respiration (intensive care unit), if necessary
  • Isolation, strictest hygiene measures

What can I do myself?

Should SARS occur again, the following precautionary measures apply:

  • Follow instructions of the FOPH
  • Consistent hand hygiene
  • Regular disinfection of surfaces
  • Avoid physical contact (handshakes, hugs)
  • Avoid large gatherings of people
  • Avoid risk areas
  • Follow travel information and recommendations

Detailed information about hygiene measures: see novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

When to see a doctor?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Severe cough
  • High fever (in particular for sudden onset and rapid rise)
  • After contact with an infected person
  • If necessary, only after phoning first

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BAG)


SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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