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Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS Virus)

Case Definition of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Case definitions (revised 1 May 2003)

Suspect case
1.   A person presenting after 1 November 2002 with history of:
-  high fever (>38 °C)
AND
-   cough or breathing difficulty
AND one or more of the following exposures during the 10 days prior to onset of symptoms:
-  close contactwith a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS;
-  history of travel, to an area with recent local transmission of SARS
-  residing in an area with recent local transmission of SARS

2.  A person with an unexplained acute respiratory illness resulting in death after 1 November 2002,1 but on whom no autopsy has been performed
AND one or more of the following exposures during to 10 days prior to onset of symptoms:
-  close contact,2 with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS;
-   history of travel to an area with recent local transmission of SARS
-  residing in an area with recent local transmission of SARS

Probable case
1.  A suspect case with radiographic evidence of infiltrates consistent with pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) on chest X-ray (CXR).
2.   A suspect case of SARS that is positive for SARS coronavirus by one or more assays. See Use of laboratory methods for SARS diagnosis.
3.   A suspect case with autopsy findings consistent with the pathology of RDS without an identifiable cause.

Exclusion criteria
A case should be excluded if an alternative diagnosis can fully explain their illness.

Reclassification of cases
As SARS is currently a diagnosis of exclusion, the status of a reported case may change over time. A patient should always be managed as clinically appropriate, regardless of their case status.
-   A case initially classified as suspect or probable, for whom an alternative diagnosis can fully explain the illness, should be discarded after carefully considering the possibility of co-infection.
-   A suspect case who, after investigation, fulfils the probable case definition should be reclassified as "probable".
-   A suspect case with a normal CXR should be treated, as deemed appropriate, and monitored for 7 days. Those cases in whom recovery is inadequate should be re-evaluated by CXR.
-   Those suspect cases in whom recovery is adequate but whose illness cannot be fully explained by an alternative diagnosis should remain as "suspect".
-   A suspect case who dies, on whom no autopsy is conducted, should remain classified as "suspect". However, if this case is identified as being part of a chain transmission of SARS, the case should be reclassified as "probable".
-   If an autopsy is conducted and no pathological evidence of RDS is found, the case should be "discarded".

1   The surveillance period begins on 1 November 2002 to capture cases of atypical pneumonia in China now recognised as SARS. International transmission of SARS was first reported in March 2003 for cases with onset in February 2003.

2   Close contact: having cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids of a suspect or probable case of SARS.

Source: http://www.who.int/csr/sars/casedefinition/en/

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Source: National Center For National Biotechnology Information(NCBI). When you read the MEDLINE (NLM PubMed) abstract click on Links: Related Articles.

  • A Cluster of Cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Hong Kong.N Engl J Med. 2003 APR 1 [epub ahead of print] Tsang KW, Ho PL, Ooi GC, Yee WK, Wang T; et al. [Medline]
  • Identification of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Canada.N Engl J Med. 2003 Mar 31 [epub ahead of print] Poutanen SM, Low DE, Henry B, Finkelstein S, Rose D; et al. [Medline]
  • Case Clusters of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2003 APR 1 [epub ahead of print] Drazen JM. [Medline]
  • Pneumonia causes panic in Guangdong province. BMJ. 2003 Feb 22;326(7386):416. No abstract available. Rosling L, Rosling M. [Medline]

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