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JAMA Patient Page
December 24, 2003

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

JAMA. 2003;290(24):3318. doi:10.1001/jama.290.24.3172

In early 2003, a new infectious respiratory (lung) disease was described in Asia. It soon spread to other areas of the world, including North America. This new disease is called severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). SARS is highly contagious and is spread from person to person.

SARS is a viral illness, as are the common cold and influenza (flu). The type of virus that causes SARS is a coronavirus. Recent scientific studies have shown that some Asian animals carry viruses similar to the virus that causes SARS. These animals may have been the origin of the SARS virus that affects humans. The December 24/31, 2003, issue of JAMA includes several articles about SARS.

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