The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization have received reports of patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) from Canada, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The cause of these illnesses is unknown and is being investigated however a recent report from the CDC announced that a previously unrecognized virus from the coronavirus family [insert]the leading hypothesis for the cause of SARS. Early signs are flu-like symptoms such as fever, myalgias, headache, sore throat, dry cough , shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. In some cases these symptoms are followed by hypoxia, pneumonia, and occasionally acute respiratory distress requiring mechanical ventilation and death. Laboratory findings may include thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), leukopenia (low white blood cell count) and elevated liver enzymes.
Some close contacts, including healthcare workers, have developed similar illnesses. In response to these developments, CDC is initiating close watch for cases of SARS among recent travelers or their close contacts. As of March 21, 2003, the majority of patients identified as having SARS have been adults aged 25-70 years who were previously healthy. Few suspected cases of SARS have been reported among children aged less than 15 years.
Treatment have included several antibiotics to observationally treat known bacterial agents of atypical pneumonia. In many locations, therapy also has included antiviral agents such as oseltamivir or ribavirin. Steroids have also been administered orally or intravenously to patients in combination with ribavirin and other antimicrobials. At present, the most efficacious treatment regimen, if any, is unknown.
In the United States, clinicians who suspect cases of SARS are requested to report such cases to their state health departments. CDC requests that reports of suspected cases from state health departments, international airlines, cruise ships, or cargo carriers be directed to the SARS Investigative Team at the CDC Emergency Operations Center, telephone 770-488-7100. Outside the United States, clinicians who suspect cases of SARS are requested to report such cases to their local public health authorities. Additional information about SARS (e.g., infection control guidance and procedures for reporting suspected cases) is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars.
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