In 2003, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was first reported in Southern China. Over the next few months, the illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before this global outbreak was contained by a rapid mobilization of health authorities and professionals. More than 8000 people worldwide became sick. Of these, 10 % died.
SARS was the first severe and transmissible disease to appear in the XXIst century. It is a viral respiratory illness caused by a previously unrecognized coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS-CoV is thought to be an animal virus from an as-yet-uncertain animal reservoir, perhaps bats, that spread to other animals like civet cats. The main way that SARS had spread was by close person-to-person contacts, transmitted most readily by respiratory droplets (droplet spread) produced when an infected person was coughing or sneezing. SARS-CoV was less contagious than current SARS-CoV-2 which is causing the pandemic of Covid-19.