Objective: To analyse the case fatality ratio (CFR) and its risk factors for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in mainland China by using a comprehensive dataset of all probable cases.
Methods: The data of all probable SARS cases were derived from the Infectious Disease Reporting System of the Center of Diseases Control and Hospital Information Systems, during the 2003 epidemic in mainland China. The definition of probable SARS case was consistent with the definition for clinically confirmed SARS issued by the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China. We performed univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis to determine the association of CFR with age, sex, residence location, occupation, the period of the epidemic and the duration from symptom onset to admission into hospital.
Results: The overall CFR was 6.4% among 5327 probable SARS cases in mainland China. Old age, being a patient during the early period of a local outbreak, and being from Tianjin led to a relatively higher CFR than young age, late stage of a local outbreak and cases from Beijing. Guangdong Province resulted in an even lower CFR compared with Beijing.
Conclusions: Because of their deteriorated health status and apparent complications, SARS patients aged >60 years had a much higher risk of dying than younger patients. At the early stage of local outbreaks, lack of experience in patient care and perhaps treatment also led to a relatively higher CFR. The Tianjin SARS outbreak happened mainly within a hospital, leading to a high impact of co-morbidity. The relatively young age of the cases partly explains the low CFR in mainland China compared with other countries and areas affected by SARS.