Suspected SARS case in South China

Dec 29, 2003 (CIDRAP News) – The Ministry of Health of China on Friday, Dec 26, told the World Health Organization (WHO) of a suspected case of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), according to a WHO update. The patient, a 32-year-old freelance television worker from the Panyu District of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, experienced fever and headache Dec 16 and sought medical help on the 20th. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, transferred to a quarantine ward on the 24th, and declared a suspected SARS case on the 26th. Laboratory tests for SARS were inconclusive. He remains in quarantine but has had a normal body temperature for 4 consecutive days and is in stable condition, according to an Associated Press story.

Eighty-one contacts of the patient were identified, and 42 close contacts, including 36 healthcare workers, were quarantined. None have shown any symptoms, and four of the quarantined contacts were released yesterday after China's required 14 days.

A four-member WHO team, including an Austrialian lab expert, arrived in China today to help investigate the case. They will double-check test results and perhaps send samples to an international reference laboratory. They will also try to determine where the patient contracted the virus and make sure no persons who have come into contact with him have been missed.

The 2002 SARS outbreak, which ended up killing well over 700 people and sickening 8,000 before subsiding in June 2003, began in the Guangdong Province.

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