|TRENTON -- The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), today reported a second suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s second suspected case is among 116 cases being investigated nationwide. There have been no known SARS deaths in the United States to date. Worldwide, 2,353 cases, including 84 deaths, have been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The new suspected case involves a 30-year old female who traveled to Asia on March 15 and returned on March 30. On March 24, while in Asia, she developed cough, intermittent fever and occasional shortness of breath.
The woman denied contact with any ill individuals during her trip. She did not receive medical attention in Asia, but reported taking over-the-counter medication.
The woman, who works in New York City, saw her physician at work on March 30. Chest x-rays and lab test were normal. Specimens were collected and forwarded to the CDC by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The woman was never hospitalized and is at home recovering. Her symptoms have improved although a cough persists.
The first suspected SARS patient in New Jersey, a 36-year-old female, was treated in a North Jersey hospital and released on March 17. She recovered fully.
In both instances, no family members or health care worker contacts have developed respiratory illness.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a form of atypical pneumonia occurring in a person who has traveled to a country with an outbreak or come in contact with a person with SARS. SARS, the cause of which has not yet been identified, begins as an influenza-like illness, with such symptoms as rapid onset of high fever, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, dry cough and shortness of breath. X-rays may show pneumonia and/or other changes. Laboratory tests show low numbers of white blood cells and platelets. Some cases worldwide, but only one in the United States, have involved respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation.
"Education and awareness on the part of the public are important weapons in the fight against this emerging global health threat,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.
The World Health Organization has urged all travelers to be aware of the symptoms associated with SARS and has recommended that persons traveling to Hong Kong and the Guangdong Province of China, two of the most affected areas, postpone all but essential travel.
Suspected or probable cases have been reported to the WHO from the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Taiwan, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.
The CDC has developed health alerts for individuals entering the United States. These alerts are being distributed at all U.S. airports that receive international flights, including Newark Liberty International Airport.
“The most important measure to prevent transmission of this infection is for health care practitioners to identify potential cases and then immediately institute infection control practices, including isolation, “ said Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., State Epidemiologist and Assistant Commissioner.
The DHSS has held weekly teleconferences with New Jersey hospitals and public health agencies to provide updates, explain how to identify potential cases and to detail appropriate reporting mechanisms. Health officials in New Jersey have been instructed to immediately report any suspected cases by telephone to both DHSS and local health officials. The DHSS maintains close communication regarding SARS with the CDC and New Jersey’s public health and health care communities.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/travel.