Classification: ICD-10 J12.81
Agent: SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is a positive-sense, single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus of the family Coronaviridae. The viral membrane contains a transmembrane (M) glycoprotein, spike (S) glycoprotein, and envelope (E) protein. Coronaviruses derive their name from the crown-like (corona-like) morphology on electron microscopy.
Reservoir: Although SARS-like coronaviruses with very high genetic homology to SARS-CoV have been identified in masked palm civets, civets are thought to be a non-reservoir, spillover species. Horseshoe bats are thought to be the natural reservoir of the progenitor of the SARS virus.
Transmission: Direct person-to-person transmission, usually following close contact with a symptomatic case or the respiratory secretions or body fluids of a symptomatic case. Healthcare facilities were key in amplifying the transmission of SARS in 2003. Respiratory droplets or contaminated surfaces are thought to be the principal routes of transmission, although one outbreak in a residential block in Hong Kong was attributed to aerosol spread.