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Postgrad Med J 80:373-381 doi:10.1136/pgmj.2004.020263
  • Review

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS): epidemiology and clinical features

  1. D S C Hui1,
  2. M C H Chan1,
  3. A K Wu1,
  4. P C Ng2
  1. 1Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
  2. 2Department of Paediatrics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D S C Hui
 Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong; dschuicuhk.edu.hk
  • Received 9 February 2004
  • Accepted 26 February 2004

Abstract

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a newly emerged infectious disease with a significant morbidity and mortality. The major clinical features include persistent fever, chills/rigor, myalgia, malaise, dry cough, headache, and dyspnoea. Older subjects may present without the typical febrile response. Common laboratory features include lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, raised alanine transaminases, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatine kinase. The constellation of compatible clinical and laboratory findings, together with certain characteristic radiological features and lack of clinical response to broad spectrum antibiotics, should arouse suspicion of SARS. Measurement of serum RNA by real time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction technique has a detection rate of 75%–80% in the first week of the illness.

Footnotes