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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Pinellas County Fla..Confirmed SARS Case

    Since this article was published the case of SARS has been confirmed.

    ST PETERSBURG TIMES--North Pinellas

    Pinellas hospital isolates suspected SARS case
    While tests are done, a hospital isolates the patient, who became ill after a trip to China.

    By CANDACE RONDEAUX and CURTIS KRUEGER
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 16, 2003

    TARPON SPRINGS -- State and county health officials are investigating a potential case of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Pinellas County.

    Pinellas County Health Department officials said a person showing symptoms of SARS was taken by ambulance Tuesday to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs.

    County health officials have received information about six potential SARS cases in Pinellas during the past two weeks, said Diana Jordan, a registered nurse who oversees communicable disease surveillance for the county Health Department in St. Petersburg.

    Doctors ruled out SARS in five of those cases.

    "We are currently investigating the case," Jordan said. "They have to do testing to eliminate other things like community-acquired pneumonia. Or it could be viral pneumonia."

    The patient was brought to the hospital after doctors outside the hospital detected what they thought might be symptoms of SARS, said hospital administrators. Officials said they could not release the person's age or gender.

    County emergency management and medical directors were contacted late Tuesday about the patient, said Gay Lancaster, first assistant county administrator.

    The patient recently returned from China, Lancaster said. After seeing a doctor in private practice, the patient was referred to Helen Ellis.

    Emergency medical personnel were notified of the potential SARS case when they received a 911 call from dispatchers and were told to take extra precautions, said Peter Moberg, a spokesman for University Community Health, the hospital's parent organization. The EMS workers in the ambulance donned masks, protective robes and took other standard precautions before transporting the patient to Helen Ellis Memorial, Moberg said.

    Jordan said she could not give details about the patient's condition, but said health officials expect the patient to recover.

    There is no specific test yet for SARS, but state health officials say they are investigating any case in which a patient shows symptoms and has traveled to, or had contact with someone who has traveled to, areas where SARS is prevalent.

    The list of areas with SARS outbreaks includes China, Hong Kong, Hanoi and Singapore. Symptoms of the illness include a fever over 100.4, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

    "We're looking at numerous potential cases, and there is a potential case we're looking at in Pinellas County," said state health department spokesman Bill Parizek. "That's really the key to any potential case, is to get it looked at very quickly and to limit their exposure to other people."

    Because SARS is a new phenomenon, health officials are talking in terms of "suspect cases," rather than confirmed cases, Parizek said.

    Doctors at Helen Ellis hospital were performing tests Tuesday to determine whether the patient's symptoms are the result of another illness with similar symptoms, such as the flu or pneumonia.

    It was not clear whether the tests would require an overnight stay at the hospital, but the patient was being treated in an isolation room specially designed for patients with contagious illnesses, hospital officials said.

    As of late Tuesday, the Department of Health listed 12 people in Florida as suspect SARS cases. They ranged from a 4-year-old boy in Miami-Dade to an 82-year-old woman in Lee County. Two of the 12 have been hospitalized. None of the cases is considered life-threatening.

    The Pinellas County patient was not included among the list of 12, but state officials plan to update the list today. Whenever a suspect case is confirmed, the state's health department passes on the information to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

    SARS has killed at least 154 people worldwide, mostly health-care workers, and stricken more than 3,235 people in two dozen countries since its outbreak in November, according to the World Health Organization. There have been 193 cases in the United States with no deaths.

    President Bush has signed an order giving U.S. health officials the right to quarantine those infected with SARS.

    County and hospital officials said Tuesday it was unclear whether the patient at Helen Ellis had family members or acquaintances who might have been exposed. But health officials are asking anyone who thinks they might have been exposed to SARS to take extra hygiene precautions and watch for symptoms.

    "If they have a cough and they don't feel good and they've been exposed, then they do need to stay home," Jordan said.

    Despite Tuesday's news of the potential SARS case at Helen Ellis, it was business as usual for hospital staffers. "We do treat patients with contagious diseases on a regular basis so we treat cases like this the same way," Moberg said.

    -- Times staff writers Lisa Greene, Megan Scott and Ed Quioco contributed to this report.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post 14 Cases Statewide

    St. Petersburg Times--North Pinellas

    SARS now suspected in 14 cases statewide
    The 41-year-old Pinellas man and 1-year-old Collier County girl added to the list had recently traveled to Asia.

    By CANDACE RONDEAUX, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 17, 2003 Related video

    TARPON SPRINGS -- State health officials have added a Pinellas County man to the state's growing list of suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

    The 41-year-old Pinellas man and a 1-year-old Collier County girl were placed on the list Wednesday, pushing the total number of suspected SARS cases in Florida to 14. Both patients had recently traveled to Asia.

    "The fact that we are only reporting 14 cases is very good news for Florida," said state epidemiologist Steven Wiersma.

    Officials said they could not release the names of the two new patients.

    The Pinellas County man was brought to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital by ambulance Tuesday afternoon after his temperature rose above 100.4 and a private doctor detected other SARS-like symptoms.

    Emergency medical personnel were told in advance that the man could potentially have SARS and took extra precautions to guard against infection, said Peter Moberg, a spokesman for University Community Health, the parent organization of Helen Ellis.

    Moberg said he could not release details about the patient's condition or how long he would be kept at the hospital. But state health officials said his symptoms were not severe and they expect him to recover.

    EMS workers and hospital staffers who came in contact with him wore masks, protective robes and took other standard precautions.

    The patient is being treated in an isolation room specially designed for people with contagious illnesses, Moberg said. He said the hospital was otherwise operating normally.

    Because there is no official test for SARS, doctors at Helen Ellis had to make sure the patient's symptoms were not the result of another illness such as viral pneumonia or influenza. State health officials are investigating any case in which a patient shows SARS symptoms and has traveled to China, Hong Kong, Hanoi or Singapore, where the disease is spreading.

    Symptoms of the illness include a fever above 100.4, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

    State officials also are keeping an eye on people who have come in contact with anyone suspected of having SARS, and have asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to expedite testing of four people in Alachua County, Wiersma said.

    "We've been very concerned about the potential for transmission there," Wiersma said.

    As for the Collier County girl, state health officials said Wednesday they have not seen any SARS-like symptoms in the adults who traveled with her to Asia.

    People who have had contact with the Pinellas patient have been told to stay home if they begin to have SARS symptoms within 10 days, said Pinellas County Health Department spokeswoman Elaine Fulton-Jones.

    "People should be very diligent about washing their hands, just as they would to prevent flu and colds," Fulton-Jones said.

    County health officials have received information about six potential SARS cases in Pinellas during the past two weeks. Doctors ruled out SARS in five of the cases.

    County emergency management and medical directors were contacted late Tuesday about the patient at Helen Ellis. The county Health Department also sent out letters to about 700 Pinellas County medical professionals that told them how to recognize the illness and what they should do if they suspect a patient has SARS.

    So far, the CDC has reported 193 suspected SARS cases in the United States, but no deaths.

    Since its outbreak in November, SARS has killed at least 154 people worldwide, and stricken more than 3,234 people in two dozen countries.

    Severe acute respiratory syndrome

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest definition of SARS includes these criteria:

    A temperature measured above 100.4 degrees.

    A cough or difficulty breathing.

    Exposure to someone who is a suspected SARS sufferer, or travel to an Asian county affected by SARS. The CDC has issued a travel advisory recommending that people avoid any non-essential trips to Hanoi, Vietnam; mainland China; Hong Kong; and Singapore.

    For information, check online at: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/PHNursing...SARSindex.html

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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