KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - Today, Public Health — Seattle & King County announced two new suspected cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in King County residents. The new cases bring the total number of suspected cases in King County to four.
Respiratory illnesses are very common in King County during this time of year. Only persons who have fever and respiratory illnesses within 10 days of travel to certain countries in Asia or contact with ill travelers from these countries need to take special precautions," said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health — Seattle & King County. "Symptoms of respiratory infections in the general population without the relevant travel history should not be a cause of concern for SARS. The risk to the general population is extremely low."
"The best weapon against this infection is quickly identifying persons at-risk and using recommended infection control precautions. Our medical community is doing an excellent job of reporting possible cases and taking the necessary infection control precautions," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Public Health's Communicable Disease Section. "The current definition of SARS is intentionally broad, and it is likely that not all people classified as cases at this time have SARS."
The two new cases involve two brothers who recently traveled to Asia. Both children had a relatively mild illness and are home and doing well. The previous two suspected SARS cases involving King County residents that were reported last week have recovered.
Public Health — Seattle & King County has been continuously informing the medical community regarding SARS management and screening guidelines for providers, as well as travel guidelines to the general public.
SARS is a new pneumonia-like disease that appears to have emerged from parts of Asia. The cause is unknown, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization say there is some evidence it may be a corona virus, the same family of viruses that cause the common cold.
The definition of a SARS case is evolving as more is learned about this emerging disease. Currently, it includes the following:
- Measured fever of 100.5 degrees or higher.
- Symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing AND
- Recent travel to Hong Kong or mainland China; Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore; OR
- Close contact with persons with respiratory illness who have traveled to any of these locations
More information is available on the Public Health — Seattle & King County SARS Health Alert Web page.
Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health — Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day.