Coronavirus infections in humans most frequently cause common cold symptoms; however, in 2002, a relatively new coronavirus caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which was much more severe than other coronavirus infections
Coronaviruses are enveloped RNA viruses. Coronaviruses 229E and OC43 cause the common cold, and more recently, 2 new serotypes NL63 and HUK1 have also been associated with this syndrome. In late 2002, a relatively new coronavirus (SARS-CoV) caused an outbreak of SARS, an influenza-like illness that occasionally leads to progressively severe respiratory insufficiency.
SARS-CoV was a new human pathogen that was first detected in the Guangdong province of China in November 2002 and subsequently spread to >30 countries. As of mid-July 2003, > 8000 cases had been reported worldwide, with > 800 deaths (about 10% case mortality rate). This outbreak subsided, and no new cases have been identified since 2004.
Diagnosis is made clinically, and treatment is supportive.
Last full review/revision October 2009 by Ronald B. Turner, MD