Jan 8, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Another suspected SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) case was reported in southern China today, just as the man who had China's first SARS case since the end of last year's global outbreaks was released from a hospital.
A 20-year-old waitress with suspected SARS was being treated in isolation in a hospital in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, according to an online report by Xinhua, China's official news agency.
Meanwhile, a 32-year-old television producer who lives in Guangzhou was released from a hospital there after treatment for SARS, according to Xinhua. The man, identified only by the surname Luo, had been in hospitals since Dec 20 but has had a normal temperature since Dec 24, the report said. Health officials reported laboratory confirmation of his case Jan 5.
Xinhua said 100 people who had contact with the waitress have reported no symptoms. Forty-eight of those were in quarantine because of close contact with the waitress, while the other 52 were under close medical observation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said no epidemiologic evidence so far has linked the cases of Luo and the waitress. A team of WHO and Chinese experts arrived in Guangdong today to investigate the source of infection for the producer, the agency announced.
The young woman experienced a fever Dec 26 and went to a hospital Dec 31, according to Xinhua. Guangdong's joint SARS medical team, following a diagnostic protocol recommended by the Chinese Ministry of Health, classified her case as suspected SARS.
In related news, health authorities were rounding up and killing civet cats from animal markets in Guangzhou and Shenzen. Earlier this week, Guangdong provincial authorities announced a goal of culling the estimated 10,000 civet cats in the markets by Jan 10 because of evidence that they carry a SARS-like coronavirus. Researchers at Hong Kong University reported they had found similarities between a virus found in civets and the virus in the TV producer. After the civets are culled, Guangzhou authorities plan to launch a campaign to exterminate rats, according to an Associated Press report.
A Jan 7 online report by the China Daily newspaper said Guangdong officials had shut down 41 civet breeding farms and were taking steps to stop the importation of civets into Guangdong from other provinces. The story also said WHO officials had advised against sacrificing large numbers of animals, because the source of infection for the latest case or cases is unknown.
Today's WHO statement about the investigative team in Guangdong said, "Animal experts will also examine conditions surrounding the culling of masked palm civets and other wildlife species."
In the Philippines yesterday, health officials announced that a domestic worker from Hong Kong thought earlier to be a possible SARS case has bacterial pneumonia, not SARS, according to a report in the Manila Times. The 42-year-old woman tested negative for the SARS virus but was found to have pneumonia caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the report said.
The woman had experienced cough, fever, and breathing difficulty after arriving in Manila Dec 20, the report said. Her husband also subsequently had cough and fever. The story said both had improved but would remain hospitalized for another week. The report did not make clear whether SARS was still suspected in the husband.
WHO's Jan 8 statement