Confirm 2 Suspected SARS Cases In Miami-Dade County
MIAMI, 10:46 a.m. EST April 4, 2003 - A third suspected
Florida case of a mystery virus that has killed nearly 80
people and sickened hundreds more in its spread from eastern
Asia has been identified in a 70-year-old woman from Gainesville,
a state health official said Thursday.
State epidemiologist Dr. Steven Weirsma says the woman was
hospitalized with symptoms of SARS after arriving from a trip
to Asia. Health officials say the woman is in the hospital.
Her condition, however, is not life-threatening.
Two other Florida residents, a 21-year-old woman and a 36-year-old
man, were identified Wednesday as suspected SARS cases. Health
officials said Thursday the two were in Miami-Dade County.
They have not been hospitalized but were asked to stay home
to avoid spreading the illness, Wiersma said.
"Because these cases were identified early, it provides us
with a greater opportunity to prevent any additional spread
of the infection," said John O. Agwunobi, secretary of the
Florida Department of Health.
With so many questions still surrounding the mystery illness,
many South Floridians are very nervous.
"I am very concerned. As a matter of fact, my grandson and
my son-in-law both have a very severe virus, and that's the
first thought that came to my mind," said one South Florida
As a result of the Florida cases, the Miami-Dade County Health
Department sent an advisory to health care providers and infection
"Please be on the lookout for any case that might meet certain
criteria. To look for certain things and to let us know so
we can take it from there," said Dr. Eleni Sfakianaki.
For now, in Florida, we are only dealing with some isolated
"It's the beginning. We need to be cautious, and I would expect
more cases because it came to our state. There will be more
cases," said Dr. Sfakianaki.
Anyone who has traveled to China, Hong Kong, Vietnam or Singapore
in recent weeks, and is running a fever over 100.5 degrees
Fahrenheit, and is experiencing a cough, shortness of breath,
or difficulty breathing, is considered a suspect case. But
there is no medical test for the virus.
Meanwhile, all 67 Florida counties remain on a health alert
after the suspected cases of SARS were identified.
First-Grader Sent Home After Travel Warning In Fort Pierce,
a first-grader at St. Andrew's Episcopal School is staying
home this week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
expanded its travel warning to Vietnam. They boy had recently
visited there with his parents.
"We had a significant number of parents who were concerned
and fearful," Pastor John Lieber of St. Andrew's told The
Palm Beach Post.
School officials say the boy is getting his work brought to
him at home, and is not falling behind in school.
The SARS virus has led to mass quarantines in Hong Kong and
China. Worldwide, 78 people have died. There have been 85
suspect cases reported in the United States, but there have
been no deaths.
Health officials say there is no need to be alarmed. They
say the best thing to do right now is to stay informed.