According to the Mayo Clinic, severe acute respiratory syndrome is a contagious illness that can be fatal. SARS starts off with symptoms similar to those of the flu, including muscle aches, fever and sometimes diarrhea.
According to the Mayo Clinic, after about one week people with SARS have worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, a dry cough and a fever greater than 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Many people with the syndrome develop pneumonia, and breathing problems may get so bad that a mechanical respirator is needed. SARS was first noticed in China in 2002. As of 2014, there have been no known transmissions of SARS since 2004.