Sat, Nov 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Health authorities warn against travel around Guangdong

CONCERN OVER SARS The CDC says there is a greater chance of the disease resurfacing in the south of the province before next February

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday warned people against visiting southern Guang-dong Province between this month and January because of the increased possibility of SARS transmission from animals during this period.

"Southern Guangdong is more likely to see a resurgence of SARS than anywhere else in the world," center Director General Su Ih-jen (蘇益仁) said.

Su said recent research indicated that the first seven cases of SARS in Guangdong had occurred independently of each other, adding that transmission from animals was a possible explanation for this result.

More than one-third of those who were diagnosed with SARS between November and February of last year were butchers, restaurant workers, farmers, market traders or others in the meat industry, Su said.

Department of Health Director General Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said, "Because the first case of SARS was diagnosed last year on Nov. 16 in Guangdong, the department is asking those who do not have to visit southern Guangdong during this period to avoid the area."

The consumption of wild animals such as raccoon dogs, civets and ferret badgers, culinary delicacies in the area, usually increased during the winter season, he said. He warned those in the area to avoid eating wild animals and going to restaurants serving such dishes.

Beginning tomorrow, the department will begin a new phase of its SARS prevention plan. According to Chen, the 177 SARS information hotline was officially opened today.

Chen also reiterated that individuals over the age of 65 should receive flu vaccinations as soon as possible.

Su further confirmed that the virus strains being used in the vaccinations were preventing the most common flu strains this season.

"Usually, there is a small increase of flu incidents before a drastic increase later in the year. From the recent incidents, we can confirm that the type A H3N2 Panama virus strain is the strain most widely transmitted in Taiwan," Su said.

The vaccines being adminis-tered were appropriate to prevent this virus strain, he said.

The department said that an outbreak of an unidentified flu strain had affected Guangzhou and Beijing during the past two weeks. According to the department, more than 1,000 people have caught flu in the two cities. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

According to Su, a similar outbreak hit Beijing around the same time last year, adding that the new outbreak was probably caused by a new virus strain.

Chen assured the public that the outbreak was probably not related to SARS, explaining that the outbreak was most rampant in children, whereas children are not as susceptible to SARS.

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