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Thursday, January 23, 2020  

Colorado SARS cases double to six in past weekPublished 4/16/2003

by Mike Lee

The leap wasn’t a huge one, but the number of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome cases in Colorado doubled last week from three to six.

Dr. Ned Calonge, the state’s chief medical officer, said the state’s healthcare community has done an admirable job keeping an eye out of the disease which is ravaging parts of several countries.

Colorado and other states are still battling the same problem – knowing what exactly is SARS and what isn’t.

"The issue is you really can’t tell without a test," Dr. Calonge said. "We are sending samples to the Center for Disease Control.

As of this week, there was no test for the disease, which is now believed to be a variation of the Corona virus.

The deadly respiratory virus has hit Asia exceptionally hard.

Last week, China was blamed for keeping its outbreak a secret for a period of time. The disease is believed to have originated in China’s southern Guangdong province.

The World Health Organization claims that Chinese officials waited at least a month before issuing a global health alert. The disease carries a four percent fatality rate.

The Hong Kong government said SARS has infected at least more people there, bringing the total number of cases to nearly 900. Hospitals were readying for the possibility of the number of cases tripling.

Two more people died in Singapore last week and Canadian provinces reported 217 probable or suspect SARS cases along with 10 deaths.

Thousands have been in quarantine in Ontario to prevent the disease from spreading.

Numbers from 20 other countries showed that over 100 people have died, with nearly 3,000 people believed to be infected.

In Colorado, Dr. Calonge said the six SARS cases are all in voluntary, self-isolation and all have complied. He said the number of healthcare agencies calling and reporting possible cases has been healthy.

"I think the (healthcare) population of the state is aware of this and are asking questions," Dr. Calonge said. "We’re very rapidly using isolation techniques."

Dr. Calonge said all six cases have been people who have recently traveled overseas. He said there are no cases of those people transmitting the disease to others, including their families.

Those in self-isolation remained away from the general public for 10 days.

The disease is having an impact on the world economy. Tourism has slowed in a number of countries and schools have been shut down and events canceled to reduce contact with others.

The United State has reported over 150 suspect cases with no deaths, but the U.S. definition is much broader than that of other countries and even includes people who have not developed pneumonia, a symptom associated with the disease.

Dr. Calonge said no test is available yet, but a narrowing of scope could be as effective in determining SARS cases here.

"What will happen is we’ll get a better case definition," Dr. Calonge said. "As long as people travel in endemic areas and come back we’ll continue to collect suspect cases. What we’re hoping in the U.S. is a wave of caution and proper isolation techniques and this will not get out of hand."

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