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Authorities follow criteria set by WHO on SARS

posted on 15/05/2003: 1742 views

For a person to be classified as a suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, would have to come not more than 10 days ago from an endemic area with local chains of transmission and developed symptoms of the disease. Anyone showing symptoms after a lapse of the 10-day period is not treated as a suspect and a report of the case is not filed with the UAE Ministry of Health, according to a health official.

Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, Assistant Under Secretary for Preventive Medicine at the UAE Ministry of Health, told Khaleej Times yesterday that the MoH follows strict criteria set by the World Health Organisation, WHO, in diagnosing and classifying suspect or probable SARS cases. 'If an individual is diagnosed with fever and pneumonia-like symptoms and that person has come from an endemic area within the last 10 days, a report is filed with the local public health section at the medical district of the emirate concerned.

The medical district then carries out an initial inspection of the suspected case and should the symptoms meet the criteria set by the WHO for SARS only then would the required forms be filled out and a case reported to the MoH', Dr. Fikri said. He said that after the 10-day period has lapsed from an individual's arrival in the UAE from an endemic area, any symptoms such an individual may develop, including pneumonia-like illness, cannot be reported as a suspect SARS case.

The WHO's Case Definitions for Surveillance of SARS is a guideline for clinicians and health authorities around the world. The aim of the WHO is to describe the epidemiology of SARS and to monitor the magnitude and the spread of the disease in order to provide advice on prevention and control.

A person is suspected of SARS, presenting after November 1, 2002, if he has fever and cough or breathing difficulty and one or more of the following exposures during the 10 days period to onset of symptoms: close contact with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS, travel to an area with recent local transmission of SARS, or residence in an area with recent local transmission of SARS.

A probable case is defined as a suspect case with radiographic evidence of infiltrates consistent with pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome, RDS, on chest X-ray, CXR. A suspect case of SARS that is positive for SARS corona-virus by one or more assays is also upgraded to probable status.

A suspect case with autopsy findings consistent with the pathology of RDS without an identifiable cause is also upgraded to probable case. A case should be excluded if an alternative diagnosis can fully explain their illness. As SARS is currently a diagnosis of exclusion, the status of a reported case may change. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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