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Travel advisory issued over pneumonia strain GENEVA (Switzerland) - The World Health Organization on Saturday issued a worldwide emergency travel advisory containing guidance for travelers and airlines, citing the quick spread of an atypical pneumonia that now represents "a worldwide threat." More than 150 cases of the pneumonia, dubbed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), have been reported in the last week, WHO said in a news release.
Cases have been reported in Canada, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the organization added. Early Saturday, an ill passenger and companions traveling from New York landed in Frankfurt, Germany, and were taken to a hospital, where they were held in isolation.
"Due to the spread of SARS to several countries in a short period of time, the World Health Organization today has issued emergency guidance for travelers and airlines," the statement said. "This syndrome, SARS, is now a worldwide health threat," said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, director general of WHO. "The world needs to work together to find its cause, cure the sick, and stop its spread."
At present, WHO is not recommending people restrict travel to any particular destination. But, the organization is offering guidance to travelers, airline crews and airlines based on the early information. In addition to fever and respiratory symptoms, SARS may be associated with other symptoms including headache, muscular stiffness, loss of appetite, malaise, confusion, rash, and diarrhea.
"Until more is known about the cause of these outbreaks, WHO recommends that patients with SARS be isolated with barrier nursing techniques and treated as clinically indicated. At the same time, WHO recommends that any suspect cases be reported to national health authorities," the advisory said.
WHO said it is in close communication with all national authorities and has offered epidemiological, laboratory and clinical support. "In the unlikely event of a traveler experiencing this combination of symptoms, they should seek medical attention and ensure that information about their recent travel is passed on to the health care staff," the statement said.
"Any traveler who develops these symptoms is advised not to undertake further travel until they have recovered." Airlines are instructed to alert the destination airport should a passenger be found with the symptoms.

When to act?

The World Health Organization alerts travelers to be aware of the symptoms, which include:
People presenting after February 1 with a history of fever greater than 38 C (100.4 F) AND one or more respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing AND One or more of the following:
Close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with SARS. Close contact means having cared for, having lived with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of a person with SARS.
Recent history of travel to areas reporting cases of SARS. Probable cases are defined as:
A person with chest x-ray findings of pneumonia or Respiratory Distress yndrome OR A person with an unexplained respiratory illness resulting in death, with an autopsy examination demonstrating the pathology of Respiratory Distress Syndrome without an identifiable cause.



Posted in SARS @ 15 March 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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