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 biologicalcontrols.com - Associated Press 10/9/2003

Health officials brace for return of SARS this winter
By Daniel Yee
(taken from 10/9/2003 Associated Press)


   Atlanta - Fear over the possible return of SARS is so great in the United States that even if the virus does not appear, it will probably cause disruption in hospitals this winter, top U.S. health officials say.
    CDC and other health officials say emergency rooms could be swamped with suspected cases of the disease.
    "Whether the virus comes back this winter or not, we will be dealing with SARS," said Dr. James Hughes, director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "When people start showing up with respiratory diseases, physicians will be thinking of SARS"
    Health officials are worried that doctors with limited SARS experience easily could confuse early SARS symptoms with the flu. To clarify matters, the CDC is working on a plan for doctors and hospitals to prevent outbreaks.
    Hospital officials will be on the lookout foe severe acute respiratory syndrome cases this winter because of the seasonal nature of such viruses.
    SARS emerged in China last November, but it was not until the spring when researches identified SARS as a new kind of virus. Through July, when the virus' activity subsided, SARS had affected nearly 8,100 people, killing 774 worldwide. There were 74 probable U.S. cases and no deaths.
    Research on a vaccine and antiviral treatments is under way, but it could be years before any new drugs reach the market.


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