Metropolitan Boston Emergency Medical Service Council

25 B Street, Suite A Burlington, Massachusetts 01803

781-505-4367 (voice) | 781-272-6967 (fax)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a condition of unknown etiology that has been afflicting patients in Asia, North America, and Europe. A majority of the people afflicted with SARS have been adults between the ages of 25 and 70 who are healthy. Very few cases have been identified in children below fifteen years old.


  • Fever greater than 100.4 F (> 38 C)
  • Headache
  • Overall discomfort and body aches
  • Malaise
  • Some individuals have mild respiratory symptoms and some develop diarrhea during febrile period
  • After 3-7 days, a lower respiratory phase begins with a dry, unproductive cough or dyspnea.

The severity of the illness ranges greatly from mild illness to death. SARS is spread through close contact with patients who have been diagnosed within 10 days. Close contact means having cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids.

If EMS personnel encounter a patient that could possibly have SARS, it is imperative that they follow the CDC's Interim Infection Control Reccomendations for Health Care Settings.

Additional information regarding SARS can be obtained from the following websites:

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
The World Health Organization (WHO)

Office of Emergency Medical Services Revised SARS Policy (PDF)