Message from Health Services
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Message from Health Services

To: Campus Community
From: Anita Barkin, Student Health Service
Date: April 2, 2003
Re: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

As media coverage of SARS has increased, so has the request for information regarding transmission of the illness and recommendations for prevention. First diagnosed in mainland China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore, SARS is a respiratory illness believed to be caused by a new, more virulent, strain of coronavirus. The illness has now spread to other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada, most likely by air travelers. As of April 1, there have been no reported cases in Allegheny County.

SARS is spread through droplet transmission that can occur when an infected person coughs or sneezes into the air that others breathe. It is also possible that the virus can be transmitted through contact with contaminated objects. The incubation period is 2 to 10 days. Symptoms include fever greater than 100.4°F (>38.0°C), chills, headache, body aches and dry cough. Anyone who has traveled to areas where SARS has been reported and develops these symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider as soon as possible.

Students are urged to contact the Student Health Service if they develop symptoms or have questions or concerns regarding this illness. Our office is open Monday through Saturday and a physician is on call when the office is closed. Faculty and staff experiencing symptoms should contact their care provider, though they can certainly rely on SHS for consultation.

The CDC and WHO have issued an advisory for persons planning to travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam or Singapore. There are no travel restrictions currently in place; however, the CDC does recommend that individuals planning nonessential travel to these regions way wish to postpone their trip. As with State Department advisories, those planning official university travel to these areas should adhere to the recommendations of the CDC.

The CDC has a regularly updated website, at, that provides detailed information about transmission, prevention and travel recommendations. We will continue to track local developments through our contacts at the Allegheny County Health Department and will follow recommendations outlined by the CDC as deemed necessary.

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