SARS can strike anyone. It can kill in a matter of days. And there’s no cure for it.

When Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) first made headlines in 2002, the world wasn’t prepared for it. Within weeks, the infection had spread worldwide thanks to unsuspecting travelers who ...SARS can strike anyone. It can kill in a matter of days. And there’s no cure for it.

When Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) first made headlines in 2002, the world wasn’t prepared for it. Within weeks, the infection had spread worldwide thanks to unsuspecting travelers who carried it all over the globe. Eight thousand people were infected and 800 people were killed.

“The rapid and unexpected spread of SARS alarmed both health officials and the public. SARS - the first newly emerged, serious and contagious illness of the 21st century - illustrated just how quickly infection can spread in a highly mobile and interconnected world. On the other hand, concerted international cooperation allowed health experts to contain SARS just months after its emergence,” said the Mayo Clinic.

SARS is a viral infection caused by a new mutation of the corona virus that originated in Guangdong, China. The virus is so named because it looks like a crown and causes mild to moderate respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. This new mutation, however, causes a lung infection called atypical pneumonia that can be fatal in the elderly or in people with pre-existing chronic conditions.

The disease spreads through saliva droplets that enter the air when a sick person coughs, sneezes or talks to people nearby. At risk are people with direct close contact with an infected person such as a household member or healthcare workers treating SARS patients.

The virus can survive on surfaces or float in dry air for up to three hours. Once the virus enters the body, there is a 2- to 10-day incubation period before the disease appears. Infected people pass on the disease to others only when they develop symptoms starting with high fever, dry cough, nasal congestion, chills, muscle and joint pains, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing.

“Most experts think SARS spreads mainly through face-to-face contact, but the virus also may be spread on contaminated objects, including doorknobs, telephones and elevator buttons,” added the Mayo Clinic.

While there is no cure for SARS, you can lessen your risk of getting the disease by following these safety measures:

Avoid traveling to affected areas.

Wash your hands before and after eating and after using the bathroom with soap and hot water or an alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when you cough or sneeze or wear a surgical mask in areas where SARS is present.

Eat a well-balanced diet.

Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake.

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Author's Bio: 

Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine www.thearticleinsiders.com