Diseases Home > Is SARS Contagious?

Many people wonder, "Is SARS contagious?" The SARS virus is, in fact, very contagious and can be spread through close contact with an infected person. SARS can be transmitted either through the air or by touching a contaminated surface. Patients are most contagious during the second week of illness, but as a precaution against spreading the disease, it is recommended that people with SARS limit their interactions outside the home for 10 days after their fever has gone away and their respiratory symptoms have improved.

How Contagious Is SARS?

SARS is an extremely contagious illness. The SARS virus is spread through close contact with an infected person. It can be passed either through the air or by touching a contaminated surface (see How Is SARS Spread?).
 
Available information suggests that people with SARS are most likely to be contagious only when they have SARS symptoms, such as a fever or cough. To date, no cases of SARS have been reported among people who were exposed to a SARS patient prior to the onset of the patient's symptoms.
 
Patients are most contagious during the second week of illness. However, as a precaution against spreading the disease, it is recommended that people with SARS limit their interactions outside the home (for example, by not going to work or to school) until 10 days after their fever has gone away and their respiratory (breathing) symptoms have gotten better.
 

When Do SARS Symptoms Appear?

The time between exposure to the SARS virus and the onset of SARS symptoms is called the incubation period. The incubation period for SARS is typically two to seven days, although in some cases, it may be as long as 10 days. In a very small proportion of cases, incubation periods of up to 14 days have been reported.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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