Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a new clinical entity which was first observed in Guangdong, China at the end of 2002. Since then there have been more than 7000 probable cases worldwide and more than 800 deaths. The difficulties of managing patients with this potentially fatal condition have been compounded by a lack of data relating to the condition and its highly infectious nature. Although the disease appears to have been brought under control, at least temporarily, a resurgence cannot be discounted and it is important that the medical community be prepared for this. This article summarizes current knowledge of SARS, with particular reference to Intensive Care. Where possible the information given is based on published data but there are no data specifically related to Intensive Care management and therefore some information is based on the opinion of the Intensive Care teams at the Prince of Wales Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital, Hong Kong. It should be noted, however, that this is a rapidly evolving area of knowledge. Regularly updated information is available at http://www.aic.cuhk.edu.hk/web8.