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

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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