Subscribe to Naked Science – goo.gl/wpc2Q1 The outbreak of the mystery SARS virus is a chilling reminder of our frailty in the face of Mother Nature. This programme follows the story of an epidemic that brought the world to the edge of panic. A dramatic reconstruction and investigation into how the lethal virus spread across the world from just one super-spreader in a lift in Hong Kong, and how scientists tracked transmission, and dealt with it. Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin caused by infection of the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Between November 2002 and July 2003, an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused an eventual 8,096 cases and 774 deaths reported in multiple countries with the majority of cases in Hong Kong (9.6% fatality rate) according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Treatment of SARS is largely supportive with antipyretics, supplemental oxygen and mechanical ventilation as needed. Antibiotics are ineffective, as SARS is a viral disease. There is no vaccine to date. Isolation and quarantine remain the most effective means to prevent the spread of SARS. In addition, hand washing, use of universal precautions, disinfection of surfaces for fomites, and use of a surgical mask are recommended.