|April 11, 2003
SECONDARY TRANSMISSION OF SUSPECT SARS REPORTED IN ILLINOIS
SPRINGFIELD, IL While there are no laboratory confirmed cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the state, the Illinois Department of Public Health today reported six new suspect cases, including five individuals who are believed to have acquired the illness through transmission within a household. This is the first time there has been suspected transmission of SARS in Illinois.
A 30-year-old male traveled to China, where SARS has become increasingly common. After returning to Illinois, four household contacts became ill with respiratory symptoms and fevers of at least 100.5 F, thus meeting the definition of a suspect SARS case. The household contacts are a 76-year-old female, a 75-year-old male, a 30-year-old female and a 3-year-old female. The 75-year-old male is currently hospitalized, but is expected to be discharged soon. The other four individuals were never hospitalized and have recovered.
In addition, a household contact of a 48-year-old male who was reported earlier this week as a suspected case meets the case definition. The 46-year-old female has not been hospitalized.
"There is no reason to believe the general public is at risk," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "All of these secondary transmissions occurred in close contacts of someone who traveled to Asia. Local health authorities have been in touch with all the individuals with suspected SARS and their close contacts and have advised them on what precautions should be taken."
The addition of these six new suspect cases, all in the metro Chicago area, brings the total number of suspected SARS cases in Illinois to 15. While these individuals meet the case definition for suspected SARS, their symptoms also are consistent with other illnesses.
SARS appears to be spread is through contact with oral or nasal secretions; namely, when someone sick with SARS coughs or sneezes droplets into the air and someone else breathes them in. It is possible that SARS can be transmitted more broadly through the air or from objects that have become contaminated. No health care workers in Illinois who have been exposed to a patient with suspected SARS have developed the disease.
In order to prevent transmission of SARS in households contacts, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has numerous recommendations including:
Dr. Whitaker said the Department is working closely with local health departments, hospitals and infectious disease physicians to ensure they have the most up-to-date information on SARS.
A suspected case of SARS is currently defined by the CDC as a respiratory illness of unknown etiology with onset since Feb. 1, 2003, that meets the following conditions:
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