SARS Protection

There are a number of ways to prevent the spread of SARS, including frequent handwashing, limiting activities outside the home, and cleaning surfaces that may be infected by bodily fluids. Since transmission is thought to occur most often by respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, encouraging those around you to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing is also an effective method of protecting against SARS.

An Overview of SARS Protection

Should another SARS outbreak occur, there are some commonsense precautions that you can take that may also apply to many other infectious diseases. The most important defense is frequent handwashing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub. You should also avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unclean hands, and encourage people around you to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
 
There are also suggestions you should follow if you think you have SARS, actually have SARS, or if you are caring for someone with SARS. These suggestions will reduce your chances of spreading the disease or becoming infected with the SARS virus.
 
If You Think You Have SARS
If you think you (or someone in your family) might have SARS, you should follow these suggestions:
 
  • Call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Call ahead and alert the healthcare provider before your visit,so that precautions can be taken to keep from exposing other people.
     
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
     
  • Be careful not to expose others. If you have been exposed to SARS and become ill with any symptoms, limit your activities outside the home. Avoid public transportation (e.g., bus, taxi). Do not go to work, school, out-of-home childcare, church, or activities in other public areas until you are told that you do not have SARS.
     
  • Follow any other instructions provided by local health authorities.
     
If You Have SARS
If you have SARS and are being cared for at home, you should follow these SARS precautions:
 
  • Follow the instructions given by your healthcare provider.
     
  • Limit your activities outside the home except as necessary for medical care. For example, do not go to work, school, or public areas. If you must leave the home, wear a mask, if tolerated. Do not use public transportation.
     
  • Wash your hands often and well, especially after you blow your nose.
     
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough.
     
  • If possible, wear a surgical mask when around other people in your home. If you can't wear a mask, the members of your household should wear one when they are around you.
     
  • Don't share silverware, towels, or bedding with anyone in your home until these items have been washed with soap and hot water.
     
  • Be sure that surfaces (counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.) that have been contaminated by your body fluids (sweat, saliva, mucus, or even vomit or urine) are cleaned with a household disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Be sure that the person who cleans the surfaces wears disposable gloves during all cleaning activities. Disposable gloves should be thrown out after use and should not be reused.
     
  • Follow these instructions for 10 days after your fever and respiratory symptoms have gone away or until the health department says you can return to normal activities.
     
Caring for Someone With SARS
Follow these suggestions if you are caring for someone at home who has SARS:
 
  • Be sure that you understand and can help the person with SARS follow the healthcare provider's instructions for medication and care.
     
  • Be sure that all members of your household are washing their hands frequently with soap and hot water or using an alcohol-based hand rub.
     
  • Wear disposable gloves if you will have direct contact with body fluids of a person with SARS. However, wearing gloves is not a substitute for good hand hygiene. After contact with body fluids of a person with SARS, remove the gloves, throw them out, and wash your hands. Do not wash or reuse the gloves.
     
  • Encourage the person with SARS to cover his or her mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If possible, the infected person should wear a surgical mask during close contact with other people in the home. If the person with SARS cannot wear a surgical mask, other members of the household should wear one when they are in the room with that person.
     
  • Do not use silverware, towels, bedding, clothing, or other items that have been used by the person with SARS until these items have been washed with soap and hot water.
     
  • Clean surfaces in the infected person's room and bathroom fixtures used by this person daily with a household disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions. When cleaning, wear disposable gloves and dispose of them after use. Household utility gloves may also be used.
     
  • Limit the number of people in the household to those who are essential for patient support. Other household members should either be relocated or minimize their contact with the infected person in the home. This is particularly important for people at risk of serious complications of SARS (e.g., persons with underlying heart or lung disease, diabetes mellitus, older age).
     
  • Unexposed people who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit.
     
  • Follow these instructions for 10 days after the sick person's fever and respiratory symptoms have gone away or until the health department says the person can return to normal activities.
     
  • For 10 days after your last exposure to the person with SARS, keep a vigilant watch for signs of fever (i.e., measure your temperature twice daily), respiratory symptoms, and other early SARS symptoms. If you do not have any of these symptoms, you do not need to limit your activities outside the home. You may go to work, school, out-of-home childcare, church, or activities in other public areas.
     
  • Follow any other instructions provided by local health authorities.
     
  • If you start feeling sick, especially if you develop a fever, respiratory symptoms, or other early symptoms of SARS, contact your healthcare provider immediately, and tell the healthcare provider that you have had close contact with a SARS patient.
     

SARS Disease

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