SARS Outbreaks Waning Worldwide, World Health Organization Officials Say
International health authorities yesterday said that outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome appear to be waning, the New York Times reports. Henk Bekedam, the World Health Organization's representative in China, said, "I think there's very good news that the SARS epidemic is over its peak. Our conclusion is that SARS can be contained, and that is true despite the fact that we don't have a test, treatment or cure" (Rosenthal, New York Times, 6/6). However, "few experts" believe that SARS infections will not reemerge, and officials said efforts will continue to avoid future spread of the illness, the Wall Street Journal reports. Dr. James Hughes, director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, said the agency is "not prepared to let down [its] guard" against SARS, adding that the virus might recur seasonally (Chang et al., Wall Street Journal, 6/6). As of yesterday, SARS had infected 8,403 people and led to 775 deaths in 32 countries and territories, according to the WHO (WHO daily update, 6/5). In the United States, 373 suspected cases have been reported; only 67 of those have been defined as "probable" cases. Seven people in the United States have been confirmed by laboratory tests to have SARS and there have been no related deaths (Wall Street Journal, 6/6). In China, where SARS is believed to have first appeared last year in the southern province of Guangdong, officials said the nation's prevention efforts made a "dramatic turnaround" in April, when public health measures were put into effect, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. For the second consecutive day, China yesterday reported no new infections or SARS-related deaths (Ang, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.