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#163178 - Sat Mar 15 2003 12:17 PM Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
chelseabelle Offline
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Registered: Thu Oct 07 1999
Posts: 10282
Loc: New York USA
March 16, 2003
Rare Health Alert Is Issued by W.H.O. for Mystery Illness
By LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN and KEITH BRADSHER

As a mysterious respiratory illness spread to more countries, the World Health Organization today issued a rare health alert, declaring the ailment "a worldwide health threat" and urged all countries to help in seeking its cause and control.

The agency said that in the last week it had received reports of more than 150 new suspected cases of the illness, now known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. The syndrome has caused at least six deaths and not one of the survivors has fully recovered. It apparently does not respond to antiviral and antibiotic drugs.

The cause has not been identified. Scientists do not know whether it is a virus or even an infectious agent. Although health officials have suspected avian influenza, which has infected a small number of people sporadically in Hong Kong since 1997, laboratory tests have not detected that rare strain, known as influenza A(H5N1). As a result, laboratory scientists are focusing on the possibility of a previously unknown infectious agent.

Reported cases have come from Canada and six countries in Asia — Hong Kong and elsewhere in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the health organization said.

There have been no reports of the illness in the United States. But today, an ill passenger and two companions who traveled from New York City were removed from a flight after it arrived in Frankfurt and put in isolation in a German hospital.

The passenger is a surgeon from Singapore who treated one of the earliest cases there, and who flew to a medical meeting in New York City, said Dick Thompson, a spokesman for W.H.O. The surgeon may have gone to a hospital in New York — the agency is not certain which one — before flying back to Singapore via Frankfurt with his wife and another doctor. Before boarding the flight, the surgeon called a colleague in Singapore to describe his symptoms, and the colleague notified the World Health Organization.

In an emergency advisory issued today, the World Health Organization, an arm of the United Nations based in Geneva, said that "there is presently no indication to restrict travel to any destination."

But it urged all travelers to be aware of the main symptoms and signs. In addition to the breathing problems, the illness can cause a dry cough and other flulike symptoms that apparently develop about four to five days after exposure. They usually start with a sudden onset of high fever and go on to include muscle aches, headache, sore throat and shortness of breath.

Standard lab tests often show low numbers of white blood cells and platelets, which help blood to clot.

W.H.O. said that any passenger or airline crew member who developed such symptoms should immediately seek medical attention and ensure that information about their recent travel is passed on to the health care staff. "Any traveler who develops these symptoms is advised not to undertake further travel until they have recovered," the agency said.

If a passenger became ill on a flight, the agency asked airlines to alert the airport of destination and to refer any ill passengers to airport health officials.

"There are currently no indications to restrict the onward travel of well passengers, but all passengers and crew should be advised to seek medical attention if they develop" symptoms, the agency said.

In another rare step, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its emergency operations center in Atlanta, including sophisticated communications technology, to enhance its ability to coordinate information from other countries and to investigate any suspect cases in this country.

C.D.C. has used the operations center only twice before, for the mosquito-borne West Nile fever epidemic last year and the anthrax attacks in 2001. The last time it issued a global health alert was in 1993, to enhance measures to control tuberculosis. W.H.O. officials said they could not recall the last time an emergency global travel advisory was issued.

C.D.C. is investigating the travel histories of the passengers who are now in a German hospital as well as one of the eight cases suspected to be the new syndrome in Toronto and Vancouver that Canadian health officials reported on Friday.

W.H.O. officials said they at first thought the surgeon who fell ill was on a flight to London, but learned from a pharmaceutical company that paid for his trip that he was flying to Frankfurt instead. Two hours before landing, W.H.O. notified German health officials, who had the plane moved to a separate runway where the surgeon, his wife and colleague disembarked and were taken to a nearby hospital. German health officials advised the other passengers to monitor their health and gave them a telephone number to call if they developed any symptoms. Officials did not release any information on his condition.

Mr. Thompson said the cases in Toronto involved a family who returned home after flying to Hong Kong. A woman, Kwan Sui-chu, died shortly after her return. Five other family members who had not been to Hong Kong have since become ill; four are still in the hospital while the fifth, Mrs. Kwan's son, Chi Kwai Tse, died on March 13, according to Toronto Public Health officials.

Toronto health officials said they were aware of two other cases in Vancouver, British Columbia, both involving people who had recently traveled to Hong Kong.

C.D.C. officials are aiding in the investigation because Mrs. Kwan's daughter, who is being treated in an intensive care unit in Toronto, had flown to Atlanta recently, Mr. Thompson said.

So far, laboratory scientists have not been able to identify a known or novel infectious agent, said Dr. David L. Heymann, a W.H.O. official.

Japanese officials said their tests showed that the influenza virus was not the cause of the illness. But Dr. Heymann said that samples from more victims need to be tested, because it can take weeks for the immune system to produce influenza antibodies, the proteins that are formed to fight invading microbes.

"We have not ruled out influenza definitively," Dr. Heymann said.

Tests of victims' samples have found no evidence of mycoplasma or similar microbes that are the usual causes of atypical pneumonia. Additional tests have shown no evidence of Ebola or any of the other viruses that cause hemorrhagic fevers, hanta virus and bacteria.

In Hong Kong, an American businessman died on Thursday after passing through Hong Kong and falling ill in Hanoi, where 30 doctors and other medical personnel have fallen ill at the hospital where the businessman was initially treated before being sent back to Hong Kong.

Today, Hong Kong's secretary for health and welfare, Dr. Yeoh Eng-kiong, denied that the Chinese territory was experiencing a serious public health problem. Dr. Yeoh said that the outbreak in Hong Kong remained almost entirely confined to hospital workers and had not spread to the general community.

http://www.nytimes.com
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#163179 - Sat Mar 15 2003 04:38 PM Re: Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
ren33 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11979
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
This is in fact true , up to today. No member of the public outside of the hospitals has fallen victim to this, which is being called Atypical Viral Pneumonia here. The sick are all hospital workers from Cleaners to Doctors.All those who go to the hospital for any reason are wearing masks. It is quite scary, but many precautions are in place. It is certainly not proven that it started here.
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#163180 - Wed Mar 26 2003 06:03 PM Re: Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
chelseabelle Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Thu Oct 07 1999
Posts: 10282
Loc: New York USA


China says 34 killed by virus

BEIJING, China (CNN) --Chinese officials say some 31 people from Guangdong province and three in Beijing have died from the mysterious pneumonia virus which has spread around the world.

The official statement Wednesday also said 792 people from Guangdong were infected with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that appears resistant to standard treatments.

They were the first definitive figures released by the Chinese government, though it was already known that 10 had been killed by the bug in Hong Kong.

Health officials in China also said that three people had died in Beijing from the virus. Another five had contracted SARS. The government had previously denied there had been any SARS cases in the capital.

Singapore announced it is to close all its schools for more than two weeks in a bid to contain the spread of a the virus which has killed at least 50 people around the world.

All primary, secondary schools and junior colleges will be closed until April 6, an official in the government press office told CNN.

The move to close Singapore's schools came after the city-state reported its first death from the condition.

Hospitals in Singapore say they have at least 60 confirmed cases of the illness.

The government has ordered more than 700 residents suspected of coming into contact with the virus to quarantine themselves at home for 10 days. (Stay at home order)

In all, the United Nations health body, the World Health Organization (WHO), says about 1,300 cases have been reported worldwide since the spread of SARS was detected in March.

Hong Kong deaths
The Chinese territory of Hong Kong has been at the center of this month's scare with 10 people dead from the virus and more than 280 infected.

Health officials there say patients diagnosed with SARS are being treated with a large spectrum of anti-viral and anti-bacterial drugs, and most are responding well to the medication.

The WHO has called on the Chinese authorities to provide for help tracking down the origin of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China.

The health body has so far not issued a travel alert over the disease, which has spread to several countries after being transmitted by airline passengers.

The organization says the situation is being kept under constant review.

Despite that, alarm over the disease is already having an economic impact on Hong Kong, one of the main centers of the outbreak.

Businesses in the tourism and hospitality trade say takings are down about 20 percent as hundreds of mainland Chinese tourists cancel trips to the territory. http://cnn.com

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I am worried about our FT member in Hong Kong. How is everything, ren?
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#163181 - Sat Mar 29 2003 06:03 PM Re: Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
chelseabelle Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Thu Oct 07 1999
Posts: 10282
Loc: New York USA
This isn't exactly good news. But it is something we do need to be aware of.


CDC: Mystery illness spreads more easily than first thought
From Elizabeth Cohen
CNN Medical Correspondent


ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) --The mystery illness that has sickened 1,550 people worldwide appears to spread more easily than was first thought, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Earlier this month, when cases of the mystery illness started appearing in North America, health officials thought it could be spread only by close, face-to-face contact, such as that which occurs between a doctor and a patient or among family members.

The disease, which has killed 54 people in 13 countries, most of them in mainland China and Hong Kong, is called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

"The potential for infecting large numbers of people is great," Gerberding told reporters Saturday. "We may be in the early stages of what could be a larger problem. On the other hand, this is new and we have a lot of questions about the overall spread."

She added that the death rate of SARS is relatively low. About 3.5 percent of people who get the disease die from it. The rest recover, usually within about seven days, she said.

"If there's any good news about SARS right now, it's that the majority of patients do appear to recover, and the death rate is lower than what we see with influenza epidemics," she said.

Rapid spread throughout communities in Hong Kong and Vietnam suggests the infectious agent causing SARS might be airborne, meaning that the disease could spread even without face-to-face contact, Gerberding said.

In addition, she said, the infectious agent might survive on inanimate objects, such as tabletops, infecting others that way.

The CDC also extended its travel advisory for SARS on Saturday to include all of mainland China as well as Hong Kong; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Singapore.

Evidence points to a never-before-recognized strain of coronavirus as the cause of SARS, according to the CDC, which is working to devise a diagnostic test to distribute to state health departments.

Coronaviruses typically can survive for two to three hours on inanimate surfaces, Gerberding said.

In the United States, most of the 62 infected people had recently returned from an affected country. Five of the cases lived with an infected traveler, and two are health care workers who cared for SARS patients in the United States.

Most of the U.S. cases are being cared for at home, where they have been ordered to remain and wear a mask. Family members have been advised to call their doctor if they get headache, fatigue, a fever or cough -- all symptoms of SARS.

Gerberding said it was unlikely someone could get the illness simply by sharing a public place, such as an elevator or an escalator, with an infected person.

"The bottom line is we don't know, but what we can tell from the pattern of transmission so far is there is no evidence in this country that those activities would pose a risk," she said. http://cnn.cm

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The Rolling Stones were even scared into cancelling two concerts in Hong Kong.
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#163182 - Sat Mar 29 2003 08:58 PM Re: Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
ren33 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Thu Sep 30 1999
Posts: 11979
Loc: Fanling
  Hong Kong      
China lied again!
News here is excellent
The ten who died were mostly elderly and already sick.
The hospital staff who had it are up and well.
There are still nearly 7 million of us.
Newspapers tell lies.
We are still calling it Atypical Pneumonia, not SARS as our name is now Special Administrative Region.(SAR!).
No one died for about 10 days.
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#163183 - Tue Apr 01 2003 04:05 PM Re: Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
Copago Offline
Moderator

Registered: Tue May 15 2001
Posts: 14384
Loc: Australia
How effective are those little paper masks?
QANTAS wil be supplying passengers with those little masks for anyone within a six row radius of a passenger showing symptoms of SARS.

I think I'd be a little be worried about how effective they are and if I was in the seventh row I'd be wanting one too!

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#163184 - Tue Apr 01 2003 04:14 PM Re: Rare Health Alert Issued By W.H.O.
sue943 Offline

Administrator

Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 36561
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
I am thinking that if anyone on the plane showed symptoms I should want one, or a parachute - what about all that recycled air being pumped round and round the plane?
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