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SARS, Treatment, Control and Tests

Medical Treatment for SARS

Antibiotics are ineffective as SARS is a viral disease and the CDC recommends that patients with SARS receive the same treatment that would be used for a patient with any serious community-acquired atypical pneumonia.

Treatment of SARS so far has been largely supportive with antipyretics, supplemental oxygen and ventilatory support as needed - along with complete barrier nursing precautions taken for any necessary contact with these patients.


Control and Preventive Measures

There are no vaccines available for SARS-CoV but it is important to remember that one of the most effective and available measures to prevent the spread of SARS CoV is by taking respiratory precautions and scrupulous hand hygiene.

All persons with the signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection should cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, use tissues to contain respiratory secretions, which are disposed of after use and wash hands after contact with respiratory secretions and contaminated objects and materials.

The SARS-CoV virus if uninterrupted by cleaning or disinfectants it can survive on surfaces in the environment, such as on stainless steel benches, plastic, wood or cotton, for between 12 and 72 hours, but the virus is not difficult to kill - it is important to clean surfaces with detergent and water and then to disinfect them and dishes, linen and other washable items can be disinfected by washing in hot water and detergent - alcohol impregnated wipes and swabs can be used to disinfect skin. Both acetone and bleach are an effective disinfectant for many viruses and is likely to be effective with SARS-CoV virus.

All diagnosed cases of SARS have been linked to chains of transmission involving close personal contact with an identified case and there is no evidence of wider transmission in the community.


Tests for SARS

There are laboratory tests which can be used to detect SARS-CoV in the blood, stool, and nasal secretions - tests can also be performed to detect SARS-CoV antibodies produced after infection.

A PCR (or polymerase chain reaction) test is a laboratory method for detecting the genetic material of an infectious disease agent in specimens from patients and has become an essential tool for detecting infectious disease agents.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2009

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