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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

March 31, 2003


Charlotte, NC- The Mecklenburg County Health Department is part of an investigation into a suspected case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.  Laboratory samples from the patient have been sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from a local hospital.   This patient's symptoms meet the case definition of SARS.

The patient is now at home after visiting a local emergency department Sunday night upon returning from a trip to China.  This individual was not admitted to the hospital and is being treated for symptoms related to SARS. This patient and a traveling companion were the only two Mecklenburg County residents on this overseas tour.  This other individual has no symptoms of SARS.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department's Communicable Disease Control staff is in contact with the hospital's infection control staff and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services regarding this case.

According to the state, this is the fourth reported case of suspected SARS in North Carolina.  Another suspected case is currently under investigation in Wake County. 

Patients in the two previously reported cases from Wake and Orange counties have recovered and are no longer ill. They do not appear to have infected other people, and no secondary cases have developed from any of their contacts. Neither previously reported case is related to the two new cases.

The CDC "case definition" of SARS is a measured temperature of at least 100.5F and one or more of the following:

  • Cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, hypoxia (a reduction of oxygen supply to tissue), a chest x-ray indicating pneumonia or other respiratory distress syndrome, and
  • Travel within 10 days of onset of symptoms to an area suspected of community transmission of SARS, or
  • Close contact within 10 days of onset of symptoms with either a person with a respiratory illness who traveled to a SARS area or a person known to be a suspect SARS case.

People who experience unexplained respiratory illness and who meet the case definition above should contact their doctor, letting them know about any recent travel or possible exposure to SARS. Health care providers should report any suspected case of SARS to the Mecklenburg County Health Department at 704-336-6438.

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