Suspected SARS case improving in Anchorage

Posted: Sunday, May 25, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A 28-year-old Chinese pilot hospitalized in Anchorage with a suspected case of the SARS virus is recovering, according to city medical officials.

The patient, who has not been identified, has been in a special isolation room at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage since last Sunday.

One week after arriving in Anchorage, the man's temperature had returned to normal, said Dr. Bruce Chandler, the city's medical officer, on Friday. When the patient got to Providence last Sunday morning, he had a fever of 104.9 degrees, said Dr. Beth Funk, medical epidemiologist.

The man, co-pilot of an air cargo plane, arrived in Anchorage the morning of May 16 after flying from China. He had spent May 15 in Guangdong, a southern province of China suspected of being the area with the first cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The patient's illness is still considered a suspected, not confirmed, SARS case. Laboratory test results are pending.

As of Friday, the World Health Organization reported more than 8,000 probable SARS cases worldwide, two-thirds of them in China. About 700 people worldwide have died from SARS; no deaths have been reported in the United States.

So far, there are 65 probable SARS cases in the United States, and only seven of them have been confirmed by laboratory tests, said Dr. Jay Butler with the Centers for Disease Control Arctic Investigations Program.

Health officials recommend that patients with suspected SARS remain in isolation for 10 days after the fever goes away and symptoms diminish.

Chandler said that likely means the patient in Anchorage will remain in isolation, either in the hospital or somewhere else, for a little more than a week.

No one else who had contact with the patient has developed SARS symptoms, including the three crew members who traveled with the patient, Chandler said.

''I think they've now left the country,'' he said.

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