What is SARS?
SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) is a type of pneumonia caused by a new virus. The symptoms are high fever (> 380C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing and a dry cough. Some people may also have a headache, body aches and feel generally confused and sick.
You may be at risk if you have been with someone diagnosed with SARS or have travelled to an area where SARS has been reported in the previous 10 days. However, most returned travellers with a respiratory infection will not have SARS.
How is it spread?
SARS spreads, in the vast majority of cases, by tiny droplets expelled by coughing during close contact. Almost all cases have been transmitted to family, close friends or health staff.
SARS has been mainly spread in China (especially Guangdong Province), Hong Kong, Taiwan, northern Vietnam (especially Hanoi), Singapore and Toronto in Canada.
Is it safe to travel?
The risk of getting SARS while travelling overseas is very low. Consider delaying non-essential travel to the above countries. Travellers in-transit at airports in these countries are at very low risk.
How can I reduce the risk?
In most situations you will not be at any risk of SARS. To reduce risk, try to stay away from crowded and confined situations. If you see someone who is unwell and coughing, step away and try not to have any physical contact.
If you cannot avoid someone who is sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or cloth and don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Wash your hands very well and often. Surgical face-masks give some protection.
For more information... Speak to your doctor, ring the new government helpline on 1800 004 599 (8.30am-8pm EST) or visit http://www.health.gov.au/ or http://www.dfat.gov.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.