Health Department Getting Many Calls About SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

For immediate release:
May 1, 2003

News Media Contact: Linda Dorey
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON, VT—Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an Interim Alert for U.S. Travelers to Toronto, the number of SARS-related calls to the Vermont Department of Health have increased significantly.

“People have a lot of questions about travel to and from Canada,” said Susan Schoenfeld, epidemiologist at the Vermont Department of Health. “We’re trying to let people know that travel to Canada in general does not increase their risk of getting SARS.”

CDC has issued a travel alert to individuals planning trips to Toronto. The alert does not advise against travel to Toronto, but provides information to travelers about the status of the SARS outbreak there.

Travelers returning from any area that has been affected by SARS [Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, and Toronto] are advised to watch for symptoms for 10 days after returning. If any family member becomes ill with fever or respiratory symptoms, they should stay at home and call their health care provider to discuss concerns about SARS relating to their recent travel.

“People who have no symptoms do not need to stay out of work, school or day care because of recent travel to Toronto or any other area affected by SARS,” Schoenfeld said.

There have been no cases of SARS reported in Quebec and no travel advisories regarding travel to Montreal or other areas of Canada outside of Toronto.

In March, the Vermont Department of Health reported two suspect SARS cases. The two cases were unrelated. Both were Chittenden County residents who had traveled to China prior to becoming ill, and have fully recovered.

Where to Get Information More About SARS—

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has very specific guidelines, fact sheets and up-to-date recommendations on their website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars.

Email SARS questions for The Vermont Department of Health to SARS@vdh.state.vt.us.

Helpful links are also provided at the Health Department website, www.healthyvermonters.info