State Health Officials Respond To Worldwide Health Alert

For immediate release:
March 17, 2003

Contact: Linda Dorey
Vermont Department of Health

BURLINGTON—According to Vermont health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has contacted all state health commissioners to provide the most current information about the international outbreak of a severe form of pneumonia being called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS.

“At this point, we want to make sure that people in Vermont are well-informed about the outbreak and the World Health Organization travel advisory,” said Dr. Paul Jarris, Vermont’s new health commissioner.

The WHO travel advisory has been issued for people arriving in or returning to the U.S. from Hong Kong and Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China, and Hanoi, Vietnam.

According to CDC, all individuals who have contracted SARS either live in or recently traveled to one of these locations or had very close contact with someone who has.

There is no WHO recommendation for travel restrictions at this time. CDC is advising that people planning elective or nonessential travel to areas affected by the outbreak may wish to postpone their trips until further notice.

“People who have traveled to Southeast Asia in the past month are bound to be concerned by news reports of an outbreak of severe pneumonia affecting people in that area,” Jarris said. ”Any individual who has traveled to Southeast Asia since February 1, and who has a flu-like illness should contact their primary care physician and seek medical advice.”

The Health Department has contacted Vermont hospitals and physicians with information about the outbreak and the travel advisory.

According to a March 15 release, CDC has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) since late February to investigate and confirm outbreaks of this severe form of pneumonia in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and parts of China.

No cases have been identified to date in the United States.