The Center for Disease Control reported yesterday Taiwan's third case hit of atypical pneumonia, a potentially fatal disease, cases of which have now been found in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and Canada.
The center said the World Health Organization reported yesterday increases in atypical pneumonia cases in Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada.
Chen Tsai-ching (陳再晉), the center's director-general, said in a press conference that the four cases in Canada were from the same family. "Three of them have traveled to Hong Kong and two of them have died," said Chen.
Chen added that no fatal cases have been reported in Hong Kong and Singapore.
According to the center, Taiwan's third case of atypical pneumonia was a 64-year-old female. An Ilan hospital reported the case to the center yesterday afternoon, Chen said.
"The patient, having been traveling in Guangdong Province between Feb. 23 and March 1, returned to Taiwan via Hong Kong. She began to have fever on March 7 and was hospitalized on March 13," Chen said.
The center reported the first two atypical pneumonia cases, a China-based Taiwanese businessman and his wife, on Friday.
According to Chen, the businessman suffers diffuse pneumonia and adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). "His wife and the third case's symptoms are relatively less severe," Chen said.
According to the center, the 54-year-old businessman had been traveling in Guangdong Province between Feb. 8 and 21. After returning to Taiwan on Feb. 23, he began to have fever on Feb. 25.
The businessman and his wife have been admitted to National Taiwan University Hospital.
The hospital said the couple has been quarantined. "They stay in a ward that has an independent air conditioning system. The air in the ward does not circulate to other areas of the hospital," a hospital press release said.
The hospital has also asked staff tending the couple to take strict precautionary measures such as wearing masks and caps and washing hands frequently.
According to the hospital, the businessman's situation has been deteriorating after he was hospitalized on March 8.
Although the center reported the couple as atypical pneumonia cases, the hospital described yesterday the couple's disease as "pneumonia plus ARDS."
The hospital said it could not verify whether the couple's disease was related to the atypical pneumonia cases in China, Vietnam and Hong Kong before results from the couple's saliva and blood tests were available.
Chen said various bacteria and viruses could cause atypical pneumonia.
"It is likely that a mutated virus has caused this tide of severe pneumonia," Chen said.
Chen excluded the possibility that the couple's illness is linked to bird flu and also said it was unlikely bacteria caused the disease.
"If bacteria caused the illness, antibiotics would be effective. However, the antibiotics doctors administered on the husband have not been effective in improving his situation," Chen said.
He also urged people to cancel unnecessary trips to countries where atypical pneumonia cases have been reported.
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