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'Probable' U.S. SARS Cases Now at 35

CDC Adopts Stricter WHO Definition of Likely SARS Cases

SARS Transmission and Testing in the U.S.

The CDC also released information today about two instances of SARS transmission among people who are thought to have contracted the disease from an infected family member who traveled abroad.

In the first case, a 40-year-old American male traveled to mainland China and Hanoi and developed symptoms of SARS one day after returning to the U.S. on March 10. He later developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. His 7-year-old child subsequently developed a fever and cough on March 16 and was hospitalized for observation.

In the second case, a 39-year-old man traveled to Hong Kong with his wife March 1-6 and stayed in a hotel where many of the first SARS cases are known to have stayed. On March 13, he developed a fever and respiratory symptoms, was later hospitalized with pneumonia, and tested positive for the coronavirus. On March 19, 13 days after returning home from Hong Kong, his wife also became ill and was hospitalized with pneumonia.

Although the genetic sequencing of the coronavirus now confirmed as the cause of SARS means researchers can further refine tests to screen for the disease, Gerberding says not enough is known yet about their accuracy and reliability for them to be the sole indicator of SARS.

"With the tests we have right now -- until we do more testing and we know what the sensitivity of the tests are -- we are going to be very loathe to say someone doesn't have SARS on the basis of a single test," says Gerberding. "These are new tests and no one knows how specific they are. We don't want to be in a position that we make a mistake."

Gerberding says currently available tests that screen for the SARS virus are being used for public health purposes to monitor the spread of disease. A test must be FDA- approved for it to be used for diagnostic purposes to guide individual patient treatment. The approval process is currently on the FDA's fast track.

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