First case of SARS suspected in Kansas

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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has identified a suspect case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the state.

SARS is a respiratory illness of unknown cause that has recently been reported in Southeast Asia.

The Kansas case involves a man in the south central part of the state who recently traveled to Asia. He was hospitalized this week.

Specimens are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.

“We are monitoring this situation closely and continually working with health-care providers to help them identify potential cases and limit exposure,” said Gail Hansen, deputy state epidemiologist at KDHE.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a public health advisory over the weekend for the recent outbreak of SARS in several countries. KDHE alerted all health departments in the state and provided guidance for identifying suspect cases.

Anyone who experienced an unexplained severe respiratory illness on or after Feb. 1, and who has the following symptoms should seek medical attention and inform their health care provider of the possible exposure to SARS:

n fever (100.4 F or higher);

n and cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing or abnormal chest x-ray;

n and recent travel to countries where illness has been found, China (Guandong Province and Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of China), Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada;

n or close contact with person suspected of having SARS.

No specific treatment has been discovered for SARS. It can progress rapidly and can be deadly. To date, nine deaths have been reported. As of March 18, 264 suspect cases were reported worldwide, 11 of which are in the United States.

Additional information on SARS can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Travel advisories and total case information is available at www. who.int/csr/sars/en.

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