SARS is caused by a type of coronavirus. The virus is called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Coronaviruses most often cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory illness. They can cause respiratory, digestive, liver, and nervous system diseases in animals. Researchers think that SARS is a virus that spread from animals to people.
SARS-CoV spreads through close contact with someone who is infected with SARS. When a person with SARS coughs or sneezes, droplets of fluid from the nose and mouth virus can spray up to 3 feet. They may land on a child’s mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus also can spread when a child touches an object with droplets on it and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or eyes.
A child who has been exposed to SARS may not yet be ill. A child should have his or her temperature and health watched for 10 days. He or she should also stay home from school or daycare, wash hands often, and cover his or her mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
In children, symptoms of SARS occur about 2 to 10 days after contact with the virus. But not everyone exposed to the virus becomes ill.
Symptoms start with:
After 2 to 7 days, your child may have:
SARS then often leads to lung infection (pneumonia). Your child may also have not enough oxygen in the blood (hypoxia). These problems can make it very hard for your child to breathe.
A child with SARS is contagious when having symptoms, such as fever or cough. A child is most contagious during week 2 of the illness. A child with SARS needs to be kept away from others, either at home or in the hospital. A child should stay home from school for 10 days after their symptoms have gone away. This is to make sure there is no risk to others.
The symptoms of SARS can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. He or she may also ask about recent travel to an area where SARS has been active. He or she will give your child a physical exam. Your child may also have tests. These are done to check for other types of illness.
Tests may be available to check for the SARS-CoV virus. Your child’s healthcare provider may need blood, stool, or nasal fluid samples. These are tested to look for antibodies that mean a person’s immune system is fighting SARS. Or the virus may be grown from a sample and checked with a microscope. Your child’s healthcare provider will tell you more.
Research is being done to create an antiviral medicine for SARS. Meanwhile, SARS is treated with supportive therapy. Your child may be given:
Follow all instructions from public health workers if your child has SARS.
There is no vaccine yet available to prevent SARS. The best way to prevent the virus not to travel to an area with SARS, or have contact with a person who as SARS. In an area or household with SARS, make sure your child:
You should also keep surfaces clean. This includes:
Follow all instructions from public health workers if your child is in an area with SARS.
Call your child’s healthcare provider:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200