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You are here: Home » eGM Resources » Health Information & Resources Portal|Home » Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-GENERAL INFORMATION » Spread of SARS (General Information)

Spread of SARS (General Information)


How is SARS spread?

The principal way SARS appears to be spread is through droplet transmission; namely, when someone sick with SARS coughs or sneezes droplets into the air and someone else breathes them in. It is possible that SARS can be transmitted more broadly through the air or from objects that have become contaminated.

What is the difference between droplet and airborne transmission of viruses?

Droplet transmission refers to the spread of viruses contained in relatively large respiratory droplets that people project when they cough or sneeze. Because of their large size, droplets travel only a short distance (usually 3 feet or less) before they settle. Droplet transmission can occur either directly when droplets are inhaled by another person, or indirectly when droplets land on an object or surface (such as a doorknob or telephone) that are then touched by another individual. Common-cold viruses (like rhinovirus) are typically spread by droplets.

Airborne transmission means the that the virus is spread by very small respiratory erosol particles or dust, which can be breathed in by people. Small aerosol particles can remain in the air and travel over a greater distance than larger respiratory droplets. Examples of viruses spread by the airborne route are influenza and measles viruses.

SARS be spread from touching contaminated objects or surfaces?

It is possible that SARS could be spread when a person touches a contaminated object or surface; however, how often this might happen, or if it happens at all, is not known at this time. Previously identified coronaviruses (scientists have reported that a new cororavirus may be the cause of SARS) have been shown to survive in the environment for as long as 3 hours. To reduce the overall risk for infection by touching contaminated objects and surfaces, CDC recommends that people wash their hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.

How long is a person with SARS infectious to others?

Information to date suggests that people are most likely to be infectious when they have symptoms, such as fever or cough. However, it is not known how long before or after their symptoms begin that patients with SARS might be able to transmit the disease to others.

Who is most at risk of contracting SARS?,br>
Cases of SARS continue to be reported primarily among people who have had direct close contact with an infected person, such as those sharing a household with a SARS patient and health-care workers who did not use infection control procedures while caring for a SARS patient. In the United States, there is no indication of community transmission at this time. CDC continues to monitor this situation very closely.


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