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Home Eurosurveillance Monthly Release  2003: Volume 8/ Issue 5 Article 5
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 8, Issue 5, 01 May 2003
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Citation style for this article: Vilayleck MS. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Euro Surveill. 2003;8(5):pii=413. Available online:



Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a respiratory illness that recently is being reported in Asia, North America, and Europe. Scientists detected a previously unrecognised virus belonging to the family of coronaviruses in patients with SARS.

As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), a person is suspected to have the disease if s/he has documented high fever (>38°C), and cough or breathing difficulty, and having been in contact with a person believed to have had SARS or a history of travel to a geographic area where there has been documented transmission of the illness, during the 10 days prior to onset of symptoms. About 10-20% of cases patients will require mechanical ventilation. At present, no other treatment than good intensive and supportive care can be offered.

The European Commission has taken a proactive and leading role in responding in a precise and timely manner to this outbreak, co-ordinating the EU Network of Communicable Diseases and with the WHO, so that Member States have responded consistently to this outbreak.
Under the framework of Decision 2119/EC/98 (1) establishing the European Network for Surveillance of Communicable Diseases, the Commission is exercising its co-ordinating role with Member States. Common surveillance approaches and the same case definition (2) have been agreed upon to respond to this outbreak but responsibility for their application remains with Member States (MS).
Regular meetings, audio-conferences and continuous consultation with MS under the auspices of the EU Communicable Disease Network Committee, and WHO, enables the European Commission to co-ordinate actions for SARS epidemic control in Europe addressing key issues (3).

The Commission collects daily reports from all Member States and applicant countries to target appropriate actions (4). The WHO provides a worldwide overview of affected areas and of reported cases that is also updated daily (5).
The establishment of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control would provide additional capacity to respond more effectively and promptly to Communicable Diseases threats (6).


For more information :


4. Daily reports accessible at
5. WHO updates at
6. Commission statement on SARS,

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