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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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SARS: Timeline of an Outbreak

WebMD Health News

Nov. 16, 2002 -- The first case of an atypical pneumonia is reported in the Guangdong province in southern China.

Feb. 26, 2003 -- First cases of unusual pneumonia reported in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Feb 28, 2003 -- World Health Organization officer Carlo Urbani, MD, examines an American businessman with an unknown form of pneumonia in a French hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.

March 10, 2003 -- Urbani reports an unusual outbreak of the illness, which he calls sudden acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, to the main office of the WHO. He notes that the disease has infected an usually high number of healthcare workers (22) at the hospital.

March 11, 2003 -- A similar outbreak of a mysterious respiratory disease is reported among healthcare workers in Hong Kong.

March 12, 2003 -- WHO issues a global alert about a new infectious disease of unknown origin in both Vietnam and Hong Kong.

March 15, 2003 -- WHO issues a heightened global health alert about the mysterious pneumonia with a case definition of SARS as after cases in Singapore and Canada are also identified. The alert includes a rare emergency travel advisory to international travelers, healthcare professionals and health authorities.

CDC issues a travel advisory stating that persons considering travel to the affected areas in Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and China).

March 17, 2003 -- An international network of 11 leading laboratories is established to determine the cause of SARS and develop potential treatments.

CDC holds its first briefing on SARS and says the first 14 suspected SARS cases are being investigated in the U.S.

March 24, 2003 -- CDC officials present the first evidence that a new strain of a virus most frequently associated with upper respiratory infections and the common cold in humans called the coronavirus might be likely cause of SARS.

March 29, 2003 -- Carlo Urbani, who identified the first cases of SARS, dies as a result of the disease. Researchers later suggest naming the agent that causes the disease after the infectious disease expert.

April 2, 2003 -- WHO issues its first travel warning recommending that all non-essential travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong province be postponed.

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