Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) originated in the Guangdong province of China and subsequently spread very quickly throughout the world. Many argue that SARS quickly became a global threat due to the high frequency of international plane travel. The last Global Alert Response report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in December 2003 stated that China had the most SARS cases, with 5,327 infected people and 349 deaths. In particular, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region reported 1,755 infected people and 299 deaths. Currently, there are no reported human cases of SARS. In fact, the last reported human case of SARS was in 2004, the result of a laboratory accident in China. In any event, China is considered a high risk SARS area [source: WHO].
SARS infected people all over the world, not just in Asia. Numerous countries released travel advisories for multiple areas of the world. Strangely enough, Canada reported a high number of SARS cases, with 251 infected people and 43 deaths; similarly, Taiwan had 346 infected people and 37 deaths. Most other areas of the world experienced minor outbreaks, including the United States, South America, Australia, Europe, and Africa [source: WHO].
SARS is spread through close contact with an infected person. For example, you can contact SARS by living in the same household as an infected person or by traveling in close proximity to someone that is infected. Direct contact with bodily secretions of an infected person, such as nasal discharge or spit, can also result in SARS infection. Travel or living in high risk areas during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and 2004, such as China, placed you at risk for SARS infection. Today, since there is no current SARS outbreak, there is no SARS risk involved with traveling to these parts of the world.