SARS Spread Suspected in Florida Workplace

April 11, 2003
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), confirmed during a telebriefing yesterday that an employee from a Florida workplace traveled to Asia, possibly was exposed to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) while there, and upon returning to the United States, went to work while ill and potentially infected a coworker.

Gerberding, being very cautious with her words, said the case involves a person who traveled to Asia and developed an illness "consistent with SARS." In the very early phases of that illness, she noted, "the individual did go to work, and during the active monitoring of contacts that the Florida health department is conducting, an[other] individual in the workplace who has respiratory illness was identified."

That worker is now on the list of suspected SARS patients but it's far too early to indicate whether any of these individuals actually has SARS, said Gerberding..

"There's certainly no indication of spread beyond that point," she said, "and the [Forida] health department is aggressively taking the appropriate steps to make sure that they have communicated with all of the exposed people or potentially exposed people, and are doing the right things to contain any additional spread, should this indeed turn out to be SARS."

During the briefing, which CDC regularly holds to update media and health professionals about the SARS situation, Gerberding announced that as of yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) was reporting 2,627 cases of SARS worldwide, and the CDC has reports of 166 cases in the United States from 30 states, that are under investigation.

"Domestically, we have 60 cases that have been hospitalized, ever," she said. "We have four individuals who are currently hospitalized. We have a total of 33 out of the 166 people who have ever had pneumonia, and we've had one person who's required ventilation, and to date, no deaths associated with SARS in the United States."

The CDC has received over 13,000 inquiries about SARS from around the country on its hotline, she noted.

She said CDC and other medical experts from around the world are "increasingly confident" they are dealing with a new coronavirus, however, "We cannot yet say that this is the definitive cause of SARS," Gerberding added.

Researchers speculate a coronovirus, which in humans is the cause of the common cold, might have come from animals and mutated so that it infects humans.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!