Typically, SARS symptoms include a high fever, body aches, and headaches. However, as the illness progresses, some people may also develop respiratory symptoms, and most patients eventually develop pneumonia. However, these symptoms are not always sure signs of SARS, so anyone with possible symptoms should see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a new viral respiratory illness first identified in humans in early 2003. The SARS virus spreads primarily by close human contact, either through the air or by touching a contaminated surface.
The time between exposure to the SARS virus and the onset of symptoms of SARS 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.
Symptoms of SARS usually begin with a high fever, marked by a temperature greater than 100.4°F (38.0°C). Other early SARS symptoms may include:
- An overall feeling of discomfort
- Body aches
In some patients, body aches and headaches may appear 12 to 24 hours before fever.
Some people also have mild respiratory symptoms (sore throat or runny nose) at the outset. About 10 to 20 percent of patients with symptoms of SARS have diarrhea.
After two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and shortness of breath. These SARS symptoms may be accompanied by or progress to a condition in which the oxygen levels in the blood are low (hypoxia). In 10 to 20 percent of cases, patients require mechanical ventilation.
Most patients develop pneumonia.