What are the treatments for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)?
There is no proven effective treatment for SARS. The CDC recommends that health-care professionals treat SARS patients in the same way they would treat someone with an unknown type of pneumonia. There have been different treatment
approaches used throughout the affected countries, and the CDC is in constant communication with officials and health-care workers there.
In spite of a concerted global effort, scientists have yet to find an effective treatment for SARS. Suspected cases of SARS must be isolated, preferably in negative pressure rooms, with full barrier nursing precautions taken for any necessary contact with these patients. Doctors may try treating SARS with antiviral drugs, including oseltamivir and ribavirin, and corticosteroids. However, there is no evidence that these or any other drugs are effective. The virus eventually disappears. People with mild symptoms need no specific treatment. Those with moderate difficulty breathing may need to receive oxygen by plastic nasal prongs or a face mask. Those with severe difficulty breathing may need mechanical ventilation to aid breathing. Research now is focused on developing a test for rapid diagnosis, effective therapies, and a preventive vaccine.
There may be some benefit from using steroids and other immune system modulating agents in the treatment of the more acute SARS patients as there is some evidence that part of the more serious damage SARS causes is also due to the body's own immune system overreacting to the virus. Research is continuing in this area. A combination of antiviral drugs commonly used to treat AIDS - lopinavir/ritonavir along with ribavirin - has been shown in clinical studies to prevent serious complications and deaths from SARS. Further testing is needed before these drugs are approved for use in people with SARS.
More information on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
What is severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)? - Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral infection characterized by often high fever, malaise, and a dry cough with dyspnea that can lead to hypoxemia and death.
What causes SARS? - SARS is caused by a new form of the coronavirus never before seen in humans. Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that have distinctive crown-like spikes.
How is SARS spread? - SARS is mainly spread by close person-to-person contact. After two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough with most developing pneumonia.
Who's at risk for SARS? - The risk factors for SARS are close contact within the previous 10 days with a probable case of SARS, recent travel within the previous 10 days to a reported affected area.
What are the symptoms and signs of SARS? - The main symptoms of SARS are high fever, combined with a dry cough, shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties.
How is SARS diagnosed? - Blood is tested for SARS infection when the illness is first recognized and again 3 weeks later. Three possible diagnostic tests have emerged.
What are the treatment options for SARS? - There is no proven effective treatment for SARS. There have been different treatment approaches used throughout the affected countries.
How to prevent SARS? - The WHO and the CDC have established a number of guidelines aimed at stopping transmission of the disease.