Magazine article Occupational Hazards

SARS: Avoiding the Madness

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

SARS: Avoiding the Madness

Article excerpt

As concerns over severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) spread from China to Hong Kong, Vietnam to Canada, so too did often irrational fear, says infectious disease specialist James Steckelberg, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic.

"I've received many questions about SARS from both patients and colleagues," explains Steckelberg. "You can avoid the madness simply by taking some prudent steps and going on with life."

People don't need to run to the store for face masks, nor do they need to wear them every time they board a plane, he said. There have been cases of SARS in the United States, and there are still fears of a widespread outbreak. But, Steckelberg points out, it's not known that a widespread outbreak will occur.

He recommends some key facts to keep in mind regarding SARS:

* As of July 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported no ongoing transmission anywhere in the world and removed the last travel alert (for Taiwan). Many respiratory infections have seasonal outbreaks, and whether SARS will return again this fall or winter isn't known.

* Effective control is possible with quarantine, as shown in Vietnam-the first country that the World Health Organization declared had contained SARS. …

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