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revised June 03, 2011
Arrow BulletDisease Control: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS) - Fact Sheet

Peel Health will continue to monitor and investigate any suspected cases should they arise. The World Health Organization has stated that SARS has been contained worldwide.

SARS General Information/Treatment

  • What is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)?

    • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) (may also be called Atypical Pneumonia) is a flu-like, serious respiratory illness. The cause of the illness is a new type of coronavirus as reported by the World Health Organization.
  • Is there treatment for SARS?
    • All SARS patients are receiving supportive care and are being treated with antibiotics, antiviral agents, and steroids. Hospital staff are using appropriate precautions.

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How is SAPRS Spread?
  • Conducting your regular daily activities DOES NOT put you at increased risk of contracting SARS.

    • There has been no community or school transmission of SARS in Peel.
    • According to the information now available, only persons with symptoms are contagious and can transmit the disease, and close contact is required for transmission. Close contact means having cared for, lived with, or had direct contact with respiratory secretions or body fluids of a person ill with SARS.
  • If I had contact with a person one day and that person is under home quarantine the next day, am I at risk?
    • No. There is no risk that healthy people who are under home quarantine can transmit SARS. You are only at risk if the person under home quarantine develops symptoms of SARS in the next day or two after seeing you.

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  • What are the symptoms?
  • The symptoms of SARS usually begin within ten days after direct contact with a SARS patient. They include a fever of more than 38 °C or 100.4 °F and/or any of the following:
    • muscle aches and pains
    • severe fatigue
    • severe headache
    • dry cough
    • shortness of breath
  • If you are experiencing these symptoms, call your family doctor or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 to determine if you require further assessment.
  • What if I have symptoms of SARS?
  • The following activities may put you at increased risk of being exposed to SARS:
  • If you are symptomatic and have any of the risk factors listed above, you should call your local health department or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 and let them know you may have SARS.
  • Do not seek health care at a doctor's office or hospital for SARS without calling ahead first to advise them of your concerns.
  • My child has developed a fever. What should I do?
  • Treat your child's illness as you would at any other time. The early symptoms can appear much like common cold symptoms. Keep your child at home and monitor his or her temperature regularly (every four hours). If it rises above 38 °C (100.4 °F), contact your doctor, Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

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  • What precautions should people take to prevent the spread of SARS?
  • To prevent the spread of SARS, people should wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with someone who has SARS.
  • General household cleaning products are sufficient and should be used according to manufacturer's recommendations.
  • Should I be wearing a mask whenever I go out?
  • No. There have been no cases of SARS from contact in the Peel community. All cases have been linked to close contact with an infected person outside of Peel.
  • What should I do if I find a mask littered on the ground?
  • Masks should be picked up and disposed of in a garbage container. Hands should be washed with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately after disposal.
  • If you feel more comfortable wearing gloves, you can do so but it is not necessary.

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Home Isolation

  • Who should be under home quarantine?
  • Only people who have been exposed to SARS need to be quarantined at home, even if they are feeling well. Home quarantine starts from the first day a person is exposed to SARS and ends after 10 days.
  • Call Peel Health at 905-799-7700 to see if you should be under home quarantine.
  • Why do I have to stay home for 10 days?
  • The incubation period for SARS is 10 days. If you do not develop symptoms within 10 days from your last exposure, you can end your home quarantine and return to your normal activities as advised by your local Public Health Unit.
  • What should I do when I am under home quarantine?
  • To protect your health, and the health of others, the following precautions are necessary:
    • Remain at home in quarantine for 10 days after your last exposure. Do not leave your house, and do not have anyone visit you at home. Family members do not have to be under home quarantine unless a member of the household develops symptoms.
    • Wear a mask when you are in the same room with another member of your household. Change your mask twice a day. Family members do not have to wear a mask.
    • Do not share personal items, such as towels, drinking cups or cutlery.
    • Wash your hands frequently and encourage family members to wash their hands frequently. [Hand washing instructions - PDF]
    • Sleep in separate rooms if possible. If not possible, wear a mask when sleeping
    • Measure your temperature with your own thermometer twice a day over the 10-day period
    • If you or anyone in the household develops fever (over 38 °C/ 100.4 °F), respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing), headache, or is feeling unwell, call Peel Health at 905-799-7700.
  • If I am under home quarantine, can I go out if I wear a mask?
  • No. If you are under home quarantine, you must stay in your home and follow the instructions above.
  • Suggestions for coping at home for 10 days:
    • order groceries over the internet or
    • ask a friend or relative bring over groceries or other needed household items and leave them at your door
    • ask a friend or relative to help with child care
    • check with local pharmacies who may deliver required items
    • ask a friend or relative to walk your pet
    • call Peel Health at 905-799-7700 to be linked to other resources and services.
  • Should family members of healthy people who are in quarantine stay home from work, day care or school?
  • No, family members of healthy people who are under home quarantine do not need to stay home because there is no risk they can transmit SARS. If the person under home quarantine develops signs of SARS, their entire household will be placed under home quarantine.
  • Should I be in quarantine if someone I work with or go to school with is under home quarantine?
  • No. Only people who have had direct exposure to a SARS case or a SARS affected location are required to be in quarantine.
  • No action is required unless the individual in quarantine develops symptoms. Most persons under quarantine are not experiencing symptoms but are quarantined as a precautionary measure. Having them stay at home and limiting their exposure to others is the best way to control the spread of illness.
  • What is a work quarantine?
  • Work quarantine only applies to health care workers. It allows them to continue to work at a health care setting where they were exposed as long as they remain well. It is necessary to ensure health care services continue to be provided.
  • Health care staff who are on quarantine use full precautions at work and at home.

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  • What about travellers?
  • Individuals who have travelled to SARS affected areas, should monitor themselves for symptoms for 10 days after returning.
  • If you experience symptoms within this time period, quarantine yourself and call Peel Health at 905-799-7700 immediately for assessment. If you are considered at risk, you will be placed under home quarantine for 10 days.
  • Only a person who has had unprotected exposure (not wearing a mask) to an individual with SARS, or who has travelled to the affected regions and is experiencing symptoms within 10 days, should be placed under home quarantine. Other family members can continue with their normal routines.
  • Should people returning or visiting from these countries stay home from work or school?

  • In keeping with recommendations set out by Health Canada, travellers (including children) who are returning from SARS affected areas should monitor their health for 10 days after return. If you experience symptoms within this time period, isolate yourself and call Peel Health at 905-799-7700 immediately for assessment. Individuals who have no symptoms of illness do not have to be in quarantine and may continue to attend work or school as normal while monitoring their health.

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Revised: June 03, 2011


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