Twenty-two people in states from New York City to California have symptoms similar to those of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the mysterious disease that’s striking people worldwide. Health department officials believe they got their infections abroad, since most of them recently returned from trips to Hong Kong or southern China, where the disease started.
SARS has made hundreds of people ill, around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting other possible cases in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin. Dr. Duc Vugia, of the California Health Department, says, “These numbers change all the time. It’s a very fluid situation.”
Hong Kong has started shutting down schools so they can be disinfected. “Now that the virus is in schools, this may just explode. Schools are so congested and children don’t know how to take precautions. If they even suspect an infection, they must close the schools,” says mother Olivia Lo. Hong Kong’s health chief Yeoh Eng-Kiong says the infected children have family members working in hospitals.
Doctors in Hong Kong may have identified a drug that can beat SARS, which is caused by virus from the paramyxoviridae family, which also causes measles and mumps. The anti-viral drug ribavirin has helped the most seriously-affected patients.
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