Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is the strain of virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). On 16 April 2003, following the outbreak of SARS in Asia and secondary cases elsewhere in the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release stating that the coronavirus identified by a number of laboratories was the official cause of SARS.
SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is the disease caused by SARS-CoV. It causes an often severe illness and is marked initially by systemic symptoms of muscle pain, headache, and fever, followed in 2–14 days by the onset of respiratory symptoms, mainly cough, dyspnea, and pneumonia. Another common finding in SARS patients is a decrease in the number of lymphocytes circulating in the blood.