The West Covina Fire Department has not experienced any incidents in the city with SARS at this time. However, prevention is the key issue with any communicable disease. The following information has been provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is a brief look at SARS, which has captured our attention on the news. For more information you can log on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars.
The CDC is currently investigating a new disease called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The disease was first reported among people in Guangdong Province (China), Hanoi (Vietnam), and Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China). It has since spread to other countries. As of April 7, more than 100 cases of SARS had been reported in the United States. This fact sheet provides basic information about the disease and what is being done to combat its spread.
Symptoms of SARS
In general, SARS begins with a fever greater than 100.4° F [greater than 38.0° C]. Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms. After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and have trouble breathing.
How SARS Spreads
Public health experts think that SARS is spread by close contact between people. SARS is most likely spread when someone sick with the disease coughs droplets into the air and someone else breathes them in. It is possible that SARS also can spread more broadly through the air or from touching objects that have become contaminated.
Who is at Risk for SARS
Cases of SARS continue to be reported mainly among people who have had direct close contact with an infected person, such as those sharing a household with a SARS patient and health-care workers who did not use infection control procedures while taking care of a SARS patient. In the United States, there is no indication of community spread at this time. CDC continues to monitor this situation very closely.
Possible Cause of SARS
Scientists at CDC and other laboratories have detected a previously unrecognized coronavirus in patients with SARS. While the new coronavirus is still the leading hypothesis for the cause of SARS, other viruses are still under investigation as potential causes.
What you should do to protect yourself
CDC has issued interim guidelines for patients with suspected SARS in the health-care setting and in households. These guidelines may change as we learn more about SARS. If you get sick with the symptoms described above and have been in close contact with someone who might have SARS, see your health-care provider and follow the guidelines below.
For individuals considering travel to affected parts of Asia:
CDC advises that people planning elective or nonessential travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, Singapore, and Hanoi may wish to postpone their trips until further notice. Visit the SARS travel advice page for more information about CDC's advice to travelers.
For individuals who think they might have SARS:
People with symptoms of SARS (fever of more than 100.4° F [greater than 38.0° C] that is accompanied by a cough and/or difficulty breathing) should consult a health-care provider. To help the health-care provider make a diagnosis, tell them about any recent travel to places where SARS has been reported or whether there was contact with someone who had these symptoms.
For family members caring for someone with SARS:
CDC has developed interim infection control recommendations for patients with suspected SARS in the household. These basic precautions should be followed for 10 days after respiratory symptoms and fever are gone. During that time, SARS patients are asked to limit interactions outside the home (not go to work, school, or other public areas).
For health-care workers:
Transmission of SARS to health-care workers appears to have occurred after close contact with sick people before recommended infection control precautions were put into use. CDC has issued interim infection control recommendations for health-care settings as well as for the management of exposures to SARS in health-care and other institutional settings.
Again, we are not aware of any cases in West Covina at this time but provide this material as informational only. The CDC web site does provide an extensive amount of additional information on the subject of SARS.