April 11, 2003

Suspected SARS cases near 150 in U.S.

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Suspected SARS cases near 150 in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating 149 incidents of suspected SARS cases in the United States.

California has the highest number of people suspected of having the contagious virus, with 39 cases. New York has the second highest number of suspected cases with 21.

In the Southeast, Florida leads the states with six suspected cases, followed by North Carolina (5), Georgia (2), Alabama and Mississippi (1 each).

No suspected cases have been reported in Tennessee.

The CDC is recommending that people with symptoms of SARS (fever of more than 100.4 degree Fahrenheit that is accompanied by a cough and/or difficulty breathing) should consult a health care provider. To help the provider make a diagnosis, patients should inform them of any recent travel to places where SARS has been reported or whether there was contact with someone who had these symptoms.

The principal way SARS appears to be spread is through droplet transmission; namely, when someone sick with SARS coughs or sneezes droplets in the air and someone else breathes them.

It is possible that SARS can be transmitted more broadly though the air or from objects that have become contaminated. Previously identified coronaviruses have been shown to survive in the environment for as long as three hours. To reduce the overall risk for infection by touching contaminated objects and surfaces, the CDC recommends that people wash their hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.

The CDC has also developed interim infection control recommendations, available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/ic-closecontacts.htm.