SARS Advisory

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Recommendations for Students, Faculty, and Staff

Purpose

The following information addresses health and safety concerns of students, faculty and staff regarding ongoing outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) around the world. The following recommendations are intended to guide students, faculty and staff who are planning international travel as well as those returning or visiting from high-risk international locations.

Should I travel? 

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued travel advisories and alerts for affected areas. The U.S. Department of State also issues travel warnings and announcements, which should be consulted for public safety and personal security information. For SARS-affected areas, the State Department instructs travelers to monitor CDC’s web site [see below for site]. A CDC travel advisory recommends that people postpone elective or non - essential travel. As of May 6, a CDC travel advisory remained in effect for mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. A CDC travel alert recommends that travelers take special health precautions. As of May 6, a CDC travel alert remained in effect for Vietnam and Toronto, Canada.  WHO and CDC advisories are updated often and may differ. Monitoring the WHO and CDC advisories is recommended and, when they differ, err on the side of caution by following the most conservative advice. The safest decision is not to travel to an area where a travel advisory or alert is in effect unless it is absolutely necessary. You may also wish to consult your health insurance carrier before travel. See below for links to WHO, CDC and State Health Department Web sites. 

Travel to areas where a CDC travel advisory is in effect
Risks associated with travel to a high-risk SARS area include the possibility of being placed in quarantine with no access to personal physicians or family, and difficulty in securing medical evacuation, and the possibility of being placed in isolation during international travel if symptoms associated with SARS are identified. Some local health-care facilities may not have sufficient capacity to accept and manage SARS cases. Travelers to any area where WHO or CDC Travel Advisories or Alerts are in effect should wash their hands frequently and monitor their health. Avoid places where SARS is most likely to be transmitted (such as health‑care facilities caring for a SARS patient) and take other precautions listed by the CDC. 

Travel from an affected area
As of May 6, the CDC was distributing health alert notices about SARS to people traveling to the United States from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and Toronto. For at least 10 days after departure, all travelers from affected areas should monitor their health for symptoms of SARS, described below. To reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to others, people who travel from or through an affected area and develop fever or respiratory problems should immediately telephone a health-care provider for advice and to arrange a medical evaluation.  

About SARS

SARS is a disease that usually begins with a fever greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (greater than 38.0 degrees Celsius). Other symptoms may include headache, an overall feeling of discomfort, and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms. After three to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and have trouble breathing.  

SARS appears to spread primarily by close person-to-person contact. Most cases have involved people who cared for or lived with someone with SARS, or had direct contact with infectious material (for example, respiratory secretions) from a person who has SARS. Potential ways in which SARS can be spread include touching the skin of other persons or objects that are contaminated with infectious droplets and then touching the eye, nose, or mouth. This can happen when people who are sick with SARS cough or sneeze droplets onto themselves, other persons, or nearby surfaces. SARS may also be spread more broadly through the air or by other means that are currently not known.  

As of May 6, SARS has been primarily centered in specific countries in Asia as well as Toronto, Canada.  Some SARS cases have been epidemiologically linked to travel to mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The Minnesota Department of Health has posted information about SARS at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/sars/index.html  

For More Information

Additional information on SARS can be found at the following CDC and WHO Web sites:

These Web sites are updated as new information about SARS and the areas affected becomes available. The U.S. Department of State also posts public safety recommendations for travelers at http://www.travel.state.gov/.  

Protection of CSB/SJU Students, Faculty and Staff

SARS concerns have already affected our study abroad programs. Our China Program has been cancelled for Fall 2003. Our International Education office will continue to monitor the situation closely in collaboration with international partners and  will continually review SARS risks in our other programs.

The College/University understands that these recommended travel restrictions may disrupt your plans and those of visitors from overseas. Your understanding  is appreciated as we share this information to protect your safety and the safety of our community.

Useful Links

CDC Respiratory Protection Program for SARS follows same Program as TB. Click here for CDC and WHO Guidelines.

CDC Updated Interim domestic Infection Control Guidance in the Health-Care and Community Setting for Patients with Suspected SARS.

Fact Sheet For Close Contact of SARS Patients.

OSHA Information Regarding Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)