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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Screening Test for SARS Nears Reality

Evidence on Likely Cause of Mysterious Respiratory Illness Mounting
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New Efforts to Contain SARS Outbreak

The CDC says vigorous efforts are also under way in the U.S. to contain the spread of the disease. Arriving aircraft and other vessels from regions of the world where SARS is occurring are being met by health officials, and passengers given information cards detailing the symptoms of the disease and where to go for help if they develop symptoms.

Health officials in the areas hardest hit by the outbreak-- Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Taiwan -- have now implemented stricter infection control measures ranging from massive quarantines of persons who may have been exposed to SARS to school closures. New cases of infections among healthcare workers have dropped following implementation of these new guidelines, but new cases continue to occur among close contacts of known SARS patients.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also today recommended new measured aimed at reducing the risk further international spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome. The measures include screening of air passengers departing from the affected areas on flights to other countries to detect persons who may be ill with SARS before they get on a plane.

WHO recommends that travelers who have a fever and are departing from flight from the affected areas in Southeast Asia may wish to postpone travel until they feel better. Officials say all international travelers should be aware of the symptoms of SARS and seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 100.4 degrees;
  • Respiratory symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or X-rays that suggest pneumonia;
  • AND travel within 10 of the start of symptoms to the affected areas in Southeast Asia or close contact within 10 days of the onset of symptoms with a person with respiratory symptoms and travel to a SARS area or a suspected SARS case.

See WebMD's special report on sudden acute respiratory syndromefor more information on how to protect yourself from SARS.

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