How to Protect Yourself from SARS
April 1, 2003 -- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is spread when someone sick with SARS coughs or sneezes droplets into the air and someone else breathes them in. It is possible that SARS can be transmitted more broadly through the air or from objects that have become contaminated.
To control the spread of the disease among close contacts and healthcare workers of recovering SARS patients, the CDC recommends the following safety precautions for at least 10 days after respiratory symptoms and fever are gone:
- SARS patients should limit interactions outside the home and should not go to work, school, out-of-home day care, or other public areas.
- During this 10-day period, all members of the household with a SARS patient should carefully follow recommendations for hand hygiene, such as frequent hand washing or the use of alcohol-based rubs.
- Each patient with SARS should cover his or her mouth and nose with a tissue before sneezing or coughing. If possible, a person recovering from SARS should wear a surgical mask during close contact with uninfected people. If the patient is unable to wear a surgical mask, others in the home should wear masks when in close contact with the patient.
- Disposable gloves should be considered for any contact with body fluids from a SARS patient. However, immediately after activities involving contact with body fluids, gloves should be removed and discarded and hands should be washed. Gloves should not be reused, and are not intended to replace proper hand hygiene.
- SARS patients should avoid sharing eating utensils, towels, and bedding with other members of the household, although these items can be used by others after routine cleaning such as washing or laundering with soap and hot water.
- Other members of the household need not restrict their outside activities unless they develop symptoms of SARS such as a fever or respiratory illness.
- A CDC travel advisory recommends that people who are planning nonessential travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam, or Singapore postpone their trip until further notice.