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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
R. Lacy, M.D.
Further Information Contact:
Distribute SARS Information to NJ Schools
The materials, which include general information about the virus, symptoms, transmission, and monitoring of students who have traveled to areas affected by SARS, were adapted by DHSS from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sources for distribution by NJ DOE.
These educational materials are part of DHSS’ continuing efforts to educate New Jersey school officials and other communities. As SARS emerged as a global health threat during the last two months, DHSS sent out health alert e-mails to the Department of Education which were distributed to New Jersey schools, school nurses, the New Jersey State School Nurses Association and the County School Nurses Association.
“Fever and cough unrelated to SARS occur commonly in children,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. “Because these signs and symptoms will likely also occur in children who have traveled to areas of the world affected by SARS or who have been in close contact with suspect SARS patients, it is important to be prepared for this eventuality.’’
“Preparedness includes education, awareness, and familiarity with national and state recommendations regarding possible exposure to SARS. The Department of Health and Senior Services continues to work cooperatively with the Department of Education to provide appropriate information and guidance to schools statewide.”
The Department of Education is asking all school districts to exercise
caution and remain mindful of the disease, in addition to continuing to
update parents and children as more information about SARS becomes available.
The primary way that SARS appears to spread is by close person-to-person contact. SARS has been transmitted by people who care for or lived with someone with SARS or had direct contact with infectious material from a person with SARS.
Although SARS has infected 5,642 people worldwide, causing more than
350 deaths, thus far there have only been 52 probable cases in the United
States, with no deaths. New Jersey has one probable and three suspect
Interim Domestic Guidance for Management of School Students Exposed to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
To date, all reported patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the United States have been exposed either through previous foreign travel to countries with community transmission of SARS or close contact (e.g., household members or healthcare workers) with SARS patients; an updated list of areas with documented or suspected community transmission of SARS, can be found at the case definition page. Casual contact with a SARS patient at schools, other institutions, or public gatherings (e.g., attending the same class or public gathering) has not resulted in reported transmission in the United States. However, management of students exposed (i.e., through foreign travel or close contact) to SARS patients is a concern. The following are interim recommendations concerning management of exposed students.
“We are recommending that students who have traveled to areas affected by SARS who do not have fever or respiratory symptoms continue to attend school,” said State Epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz, M.D. “However these students and their parents should be vigilant for onset of illness, and their travel history should be reported to the appropriate school and local health authorities.”
SARS is a respiratory illness that has recently been reported in Asia, North America, and Europe. The illness usually begins with fever greater than 100.4ºF. The fever is sometimes associated with chills or other symptoms, including headache, general feeling of discomfort and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. After 2 to 7 days, SARS patients may develop cough that might be accompanied by or progress to the point where there is not enough oxygen getting to the blood.
Scientists at CDC and other laboratories have detected a previously unrecognized strain of coronavirus virus in patients with SARS. The new coronavirus is the leading microorganism suspected to cause SARS. However, other viruses are still under investigation as possible causes.
As SARS emerged as a global health threat, DHSS implemented an aggressive
and comprehensive information campaign. Department educational initiatives
Transportation guidelines disseminated by e-mail to the state's 30 advanced life-support programs, the state’s 155 basic life-support programs and New Jersey’s hospitals and public health agencies.
Fact sheets on SARS are available in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Spanish, Japanese and French on the DHSS website at www.state.nj.us/health.
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