Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SARS Believed Spread to Co-Worker; Florida Reports First Such Case

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SARS Believed Spread to Co-Worker; Florida Reports First Such Case

Article excerpt

Byline: P. Douglas Filaroski, Times-Union staff writer

Florida officials reported what is believed to be the nation's first suspected case of the mysterious SARS respiratory illness spread to a co-worker.

Officials gave few details, saying only that the co-worker of someone suspected of having severe acute respiratory syndrome developed symptoms himself.

No suspected SARS cases have happened in Northeast Florida.

Florida officials downplayed what a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman called the first reported case in the nation and possibly the world.

"We just consider this another category of close contact," Florida Health Epidemiologist Steven Wiersma said yesterday, referring to a broad category of people officials listed as being at risk for contracting SARS.

The CDC says the 2,700 SARS cases worldwide so far appear to have been spread among those sharing a household and health workers treating SARS patients.

In the United States, only six of the approximately 150 cases had been spread within the country: two health workers and four family members. No deaths have occurred as a result of any SARS cases in the United States.

The rest developed symptoms after traveling to Asia, which has reported more than 100 deaths.

There had been no known indication of "community spread," and none among co-workers, CDC spokeswoman Kathryn Harben said yesterday.

"In terms of commenting on how significant that would be, I can't say at this time," said Harben, adding that officials require further analysis of all cases reported from states before including them in the CDC's count.

"We know it takes very close contact, which probably doesn't occur in the average workplace," Harben said.

Florida reported four new cases yesterday, bringing the state's total to 11. …

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