SEVERE ACUTE RESPIRATORY SYNDROME (SARS)

Introduction

Characteristics

Transmission

Methods for Monitoring in the Environment

Methods for Measuring Human Exposure

Strategies for Preventing or Controlling Exposure


Harmful Effects

Absorption, Distribution and Metabolism

Sites of Toxicity

Biomarkers of Disease

Molecular Mechanisms of Action

Risk Assessment/Management

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SARS TRANSMISSION

Exposure Pathway

The main pathway of human exposure is close contact with respiratory droplets containing the SARS virus. The major route of transmission is therefore close person-to-person contact. At this point it appears a patient must be symptomatic to spread the virus. In most circumstances the spread of SARS can be attributed to short-range contact with infected respiratory droplets, however, transmission through sewage, feces, food, water and air are other possibilities. It was recently concluded inadequate plumbing likely played a role in the spread of SARS in Hong Kong during early 2003 so the “fecal droplet” route is considered another mode of transmission.

How is SARS Transmitted?

  • Spread of SARS to uninfected individuals can occur by:
    • Deposition of respiratory droplets onto the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes, which were released by an infected individual through airborne transmission after a cough or sneeze. (Droplets are able to travel about 3 feet)
    • Contact with surfaces or objects contaminated with SARS infected droplets and the sequential contact with the individual’s mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • SARS is spread by close person-to-person contact. Close contact includes having lived with or cared for an individual with SARS or having had direct contact with the body fluids or respiratory secretions of an individual infected with SARS.
  • Examples of close contact:
    • Kissing
    • Hugging
    • Sharing drinking or eating utensils
    • Directly touching a SARS patient
    • Talking to a SARS patient within three feet