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SARS

Severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, is a serious respiratory illness thought to have originated in China. It has since been identified elsewhere in the world including South East Asia, Europe and North America.

Most patients identified as of March 21, 2003 have been previously healthy adults aged 25-70 years. A few suspected cases of SARS have been reported among children under 15. The virus has been contained since 5 July 2003.

This risk of infection is low and appears to be localised. Recovery rate is high; SARS has been fatal in only around 3% of suspected cases. However, there is concern because there is no specific treatment for SARS as yet, and the infection can spread very quickly if it occurs in certain situations such as in hospitals.

The incubation period of SARS is usually 2-7 days but may be as long as 10 days.