(March 17, 2003) -- In a disturbing follow-up to a story previously reported by LBReport.com, L.A. County health officials today revealed they are investigating a possible case of a frequently fatal flu, caused by a still unknown pathogen, that produces a severe, atypical pneumonia and has appeared among travelers recently returned from S.E. Asia where it's killed in Vietnam, Hong Kong and parts of China.
In a release issued today, the L.A. County Dept. of Health Services said it has "identified one suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)" and "specimens have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for diagnostic testing. The individual is doing well."
Health officials did not immediately disclose where in L.A. County the case is.
The release indicated the L.A. County Health Dept. "is working closely with LAX and port quarantine authorities to increase their level of awareness of SARS and to alert and help identify any passengers who may be experiencing symptoms of this illness. The department alerted emergency rooms throughout the county over the weekend. This alert resulted in the identification of the possible case."
To avoid confusion with other respiratory illnesses at this time of the year, L.A. County Health Officer & Dir. of Public Health Dr. Jonathan Fielding emphasizes that there are specific conditions that must be met to be considered as SARS:
- Fever (>38E C or 100.4E F);
- AND one or more signs or symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or abnormal chest x-ray;
- AND one or more of the following:
- History of travel to Hong Kong; Guangdong Province in the People’s Republic of China; Hanoi, Vietnam; or Singapore within seven days of symptom onset;
- Close contact with persons with respiratory illness having the above travel history. Close contact includes having cared for, having lived with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of a person with SARS.
The County release noted that cases of possible SARS have been reported from those visiting Guangdong Province in China, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam and Singapore and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] recommendations as of March 15 advise that individuals considering discretionary travel to these areas should take this fact into consideration in their plans.
The CDC website (www.cdc.gov) contains updates of travel advisories and other information related to SARS.