Local News

N.C. Announces First Probable SARS Case

Posted June 6, 2003

— Another possible case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, has been identified in North Carolina and reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the first North Carolina case to meet the CDC case definition of probable SARS.

The patient, a man from Orange County, experienced fever and respiratory symptoms after a trip to Toronto, Canada.

The man's illness is not severe and his condition is stable. He is being medically monitored at home, where he is under isolation, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. His family has been counseled by healthcare professionals about infection control measures and are quarantined at home. They have no symptoms of the illness. The names, ages, addresses and other identifying information of the persons involved cannot be released to the public as a matter of patient confidentiality.

Several laboratory tests can be used to detect the SARS-associated coronavirus. Laboratory specimens have been sent to the CDC in Atlanta and the State Laboratory for Public Health in Raleigh. The patient is still being evaluated for other possible causes of his symptoms.

"Public Health continues to thoroughly investigate any potential case of SARS in North Carolina," said Dr. Leah Devlin, State Health Director.

"We are working very closely on this case with the Orange County Health Department, other medical providers, the family, and any other personal contacts to minimize the chance of others becoming ill," Devlin said. "We'll also be on the lookout for symptoms developing in other people so they can be treated as early as possible."

Eight other suspected SARS cases were reported in North Carolina between March 19 and April 28. All were clinically mild cases and have fully recovered. Their laboratory tests to date have all turned out to be negative for SARS. Five of the suspected cases were in Wake County; there was one each in Orange. Mecklenburg and Iredell counties.

As of June 4, the United States had 306 suspected and 67 probable cases of SARS in 42 states, according to CDC. No persons have died of SARS in the U.S. Worldwide, 8,404 probable cases and 779 deaths have been reported to date, according to the World Health Organization. Most persons with probable SARS recover. The worldwide mortality rate is about 8 percent, according to the CDC.

The primary way that SARS appears to spread is by close person-to-person contact. Symptoms of SARS include fever, headache, body aches, dry cough and/or shortness of breath in a person who has either traveled to an affected area or has had close contact with a suspected SARS case. People who become ill with such symptoms under those conditions should avoid close contact with others and notify and see their healthcare provider.

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