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Q&A Regarding the Deadly Pneumonia Outbreak

World health experts are trying to identify what has caused a new form of deadly pneumonia called severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS. It spread first in southeast Asia and now has affected Canadians and perhaps one American who traveled to Asia.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A fever of about 101, coughing and shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms include headache, muscular stiffness, loss of appetite, confusion, rash and diarrhea.

Q: How quickly can someone get the disease after being exposed to it?

Three to seven days.

Q: How does someone catch it?

It appears to spread through close contact, such as between family members or between patient and doctor. Experts believe it is spread through coughing, sneezing and other contact with nasal fluids.

Q: What causes it?

Researchers don't know whether it is caused by a bacteria or a virus, and they may not know the answer for several more days.

Q: How is it treated?

Those suspected of having SARS are being quarantined. The best treatment is unclear because different medicines have been used in different hospitals.

Q: What are the chances of recovering from it?

So far there are nine fatalities among the 150 most recent cases.

Q: Where did the disease first appear?

SARS was first recognized in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 26. An outbreak of pneumonia of similar symptoms struck Guangdong province, China, last November and was only brought under control in mid-February.

Q: Is it dangerous to travel in those regions?

U.S. health officials said travelers should consider postponing trips to countries at risk. Those who have traveled to Hong Kong or Guangdong province in China, or Hanoi, Vietnam, are being told to monitor their health for seven days. If a fever and shortness of breath develop, they are advised to see a doctor.

Source: World Health Organization; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On the Net:

CDC information: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars

World Health Organization info: www.who.int/en/