Suspected SARS cases reported Dec. 31, 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Maintain basic health precautions.
Severity: Informational Alert
This alert began 31 Dec 2019 19:10 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Event: Suspected SARS outbreak
- Affected Area: Wuhan, Hubei Province
- Cases: 27
- Period: December 2019
- Transmission: Likely respiratory (coughing, sneezing, speaking)
Chinese authorities reported 27 suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) Dec. 31 in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Test results are pending. All suspected cases presented with severe pneumonia and were hospitalized to receive treatment in isolation. This report represents the most complete information available as of Dec. 31.
There is no reliable treatment or prophylaxis for SARS, nor is there evidence that influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions. Risk of infection is highest in individuals who are in healthcare professions in Wuhan. Individuals aged 60 years and older with pre-existing respiratory conditions or otherwise compromised immune systems are also more susceptible to SARS infection.
Background and Analysis
SARS was first identified in Guangdong Province, China, during 2002. In a prior outbreak, researchers found that virus-laden aerosols generated in a sewage drainage pipe spread to several floors and then were carried by natural air currents to other buildings in the complex. In other outbreaks, infection appeared to require close or direct contact with a SARS-infected person. "Direct contact" includes inhaling respiratory droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person near you. (In an airborne disease, an entire room may be infected following the cough of an infectious person.)
Symptoms of SARS appear two to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms include a temperature greater than 38 C (100.4 F) and respiratory symptoms such as severe cough, shortness of breath, and pneumonia. Diagnosis is made through tests performed on respiratory secretions or blood. It is likely that contaminated objects also serve as a source of infection. Previously known coronaviruses can survive for two to three hours in the environment, and there is evidence that the SARS virus may survive in the environment for 72 hours on plastic and steel surfaces. Wearing a face mask may benefit travelers, although the extent of benefit is unclear and will vary depending upon the fit and type of mask used. Significantly greater benefit can be achieved if the infected person, rather than the healthy person, wears a mask.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no reliable treatment or prophylaxis for SARS, nor is there evidence that influenza vaccine, antibiotics or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.
If possible, avoid large gatherings of people and avoid situations in which you could be exposed to patients with SARS. Avoid close contact with suspected SARS patients by refraining from direct care of patients or direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of those suspected to be infected.
Related Advice: Basic Health Precautions to Avoid Infection.