As we go to press, a new disease called “severe acute respiratory syndrome” (SARS) is frustrating public health officials worldwide. First identified in Asia, the disease rapidly spread to other areas, including Canada. By the first week of April, at least 148 cases of SARS had been diagnosed in the United States.
SARS is thought to spread via close contact with others, especially through coughing. Most cases reported have involved people who were in direct close contact with an infected person. Officials suspect that SARS is a previously unrecognized corona virus.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of SARS include
- a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
- headache and body aches
- mild respiratory symptoms, such as sore throat
- a dry cough and difficulty breathing (after 2 to 7 days)
To deal with the rapid spread of SARS, international health organizations have established the following Web sites where you can track the status of the disease and seek advice on protective measures:
- World Health Organization (WHO), www.who.int/csr/sars/en
- Hong Kong’s Department of Health, www.info.gov.hk/dh/ap.htm