SARS Information Resources for Travelers
Since it first appeared in China's Guangdong Province last
fall, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, has spread to
many other countries, including the United States.
Epidemiologists, public health officials and other medical
experts are working to investigate the possible cause of the
disease and stop its spread.
Karen Angelichio, a registered nurse with the International
Travel Clinic at Duke University Medical Center, says people
should postpone any nonessential travel to affected areas in
Asia if at all possible. These areas currently include mainland
China and Hong Kong, Singapore and Hanoi, Vietnam.
Angelichio says if you cannot avoid traveling, be sure you
"Keep your distance from people as much as possible," she
says. "You can wear a mask, but standard masks won't offer much
protection. Be aware of people around you who might be
exhibiting symptoms such as coughing and sneezing and be very
diligent about hand-washing. Wash your hands often or carry
anti-bacterial hand gel or wipes with you and use them
The SARS situation is changing so rapidly that Angelichio
urges anyone planning to travel to affected areas to check the
latest updates and advisories frequently.
"The two best information resources that are updated on a
daily basis right now are the Web sites for the Centers for Disease Control and the
"Regardless of our technology and communications, it's very
difficult to keep on top of this," adds Angelichio. "Every day
there are new facts as far as routes of transmission,
laboratory studies to help in diagnosis and possible new ideas
about treatment. But there's really nothing definite yet except
support of care for those who come down with the illness."
Angelichio has one more bit of practical advice for anyone
making travel plans.
"Make sure you have your medical evacuation insurance. I
talked with one of the vendors yesterday, and they will carry
you out of an affected country if you are infected with