CDC getting record calls on SARS

APRIL 9–WASHINGTON, D.C–The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is receiving a record number of phone calls from members of the public concerning severe acute respiratory syndrome,(SARS), the new contagious disease that has spread from Asia to the United States and elsewhere.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, CDC director, told a Senate panel the volume of daily calls sometimes exceeds 1,500. That’s more than the CDC received even at the peak of the fall 2001 anthrax attacks, she said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Wednesday there is not yet a need for a quarantine in this country.

Appearing on ABC’s ”Good Morning America,” Fauci noted that President Bush recently signed an executive order adding SARS to the list of diseases for which a quarantine could be imposed.

But when asked if he thought that would happen, Fauci said, ”Not necessarily. It’s really an evolving situation. Right now, things seem to be under reasonably good control.”

”We’re prepared to move in that direction,” he said, ”but that’s not right now what we’re seeing.”

As of Monday, there were 148 suspected cases of SARS in the United States and more than 2,600 worldwide.

Testifying before the Senate appropriations health subcommittee Tuesday, Gerberding said officials are working aggressively with airlines to determine appropriate procedures if a suspected SARS patient is on board a flight, including what protections are needed for workers on the plane and how the plane might be decontaminated.


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