Scientists brought together by the World Health
Organization to review the epidemiologic data on SARS.
Existing public health measures have been effective
in containing the disease in many countries and
should be worked eventually in China and Taiwan,
where the disease is now concentrated.
Crucial measures are taken to control the chain of
person-to-person transmission of the SARS virus like
detection and treatment of suspected cases as soon
as they are identified and then quarantining their
contacts. Timely public information and alerts to
travelers entering other such effected countries.
The two-day meeting, which took place in Geneva was
joined by scientists from around the world by
videoconference, which was of "great hope and
celebration that the measures are working,"
said Dr.Michael J. Ryan, an official of the health agency.
"There is no evidence that animals or insects are
spreading SARS,(Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
Nor is there any sign that infected individuals
are spreading the virus before they become ill" was
the openion of participants..
One participant, Dr. Margaret Chan, Hong Kong's health
director, said findings from a study to be issued this
coming week reinforced the importance of people
seeking early medical attention. Detecting and
isolating patients early in the course of their
infection and quarantining their contacts has had a
huge effect on slowing the spread of the outbreak, Dr.
Chan said. Her department conducted the study with
researchers from Imperial College in London.
But Dr.Chan also said the recommended public health
measures need to be kept in place at least another
year in any area where transmission seemed to have
stopped to be sure that the virus was not hiding
somewhere, ready to strike again.
An earlier study from Imperial College in London
suggested that the period from exposure to the SARS
virus to the onset of symptoms might be about four
days longer than the current upper limit of 10 days.
The consensus of the participants was that the 10-day
incubation period was correct but that epidemiologists
needed to further study few cases that exceeded
Information at the meeting affirmed that the principal
way of spread of SARS is by droplets dispersed in
coughs and sneezes among people with close contact
with an infected individual.
Some evidence suggested that contaminated feces and
urine could contribute to the spread of SARS if they
became dispersed in droplets in the air. But that
route is not a major means of spreading SARS, Dr. Ryan
said by telephone in a news conference after the
meeting in Geneva.
The W.H.O. has received wide praise for organizing
teams of laboratory scientists, epidemiologists and
health officials from around the world immediately
after it declared SARS a global health risk on March
12. The teams quickly identified the virus that W.H.O.
believes causes SARS and the ways it can be spread.
Yesterday, the agency added China's Hebei Province to
the agency's list of places to which people without
urgent business should avoid traveling. The other
areas are Taiwan, Hong Kong and the following areas in
China: Beijing, Tianjin, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi and