SARS Surveillance during Emergency Public Health Response, United States, March-July 2003

Stephanie J. Schrag, John T. Brooks, Chris Van Beneden, Umesh D. Parashar, Patricia M. Griffin, Larry J. Anderson, William J. Bellini, Robert F. Benson, Dean D. Erdman, Alexander Klimov, Thomas G. Ksiazek, Teresa C.T. Peret, Deborah F. Talkington, W. Lanier Thacker, Maria L. Tondella, Jacquelyn S. Sampson, Allen W. Hightower, Dale F. Nordenberg, Brian D. Plikaytis, Ali S. KhanNancy E. Rosenstein, Tracee A. Treadwell, Cynthia G. Whitney, Anthony E. Fiore, Tonji M. Durant, Joseph F. Perz, Annemarie Wasley, Daniel Feikin, Joy L. Herndon, William A. Bower, Barbara W. Kilbourn, Deborah A. Levy, Victor G. Coronado, Joanna Buffington, Clare A. Dykewicz, Rima F. Khabbaz, Mary E. Chamberland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In response to the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the United States established national surveillance using a sensitive case definition incorporating clinical, epidemiologic, and laboratory criteria. Of 1,460 unexplained respiratory illnesses reported by state and local health departments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from March 17 to July 30, 2003, a total of 398 (27%) met clinical and epidemiologic SARS case criteria. Of these, 72 (18%) were probable cases with radiographic evidence of pneumonia. Eight (2%) were laboratory-confirmed SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infections, 206 (52%) were SARS-CoV negative, and 184 (46%) had undetermined SARS-CoV status because of missing convalescent-phase serum specimens. Thirty-one percent (124/398) of case-patients were hospitalized; none died. Travel was the most common epidemiologic link (329/398, 83%), and mainland China was the affected area most commonly visited. One case of possible household transmission was reported, and no laboratory-confirmed infections occurred among healthcare workers. Successes and limitations of this emergency surveillance can guide preparations for future outbreaks of SARS or respiratory diseases of unknown etiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-194
Number of pages10
JournalEmerging infectious diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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