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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Mystery Illness

Aired March 18, 2003 - 08:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: The World Health Organization has identified a deadly new form of pneumonia as a global threat. The mystery illness, being called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, has been concentrated in Asia so far. But officials say, as of Monday, 167 new or suspected cases of the disease, including 4 deaths, were reported worldwide, and there is now even a suspected case in Los Angeles.
Joining us from New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Jeffrey Chop, assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

Doctor, thanks so much for joining us.

Are concerned about how quickly this disease seems to be transmitted?

DR. JEFFREY CHOP, ASST. PROF., YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Yes. I think that it is moving fairly rapidly when the cases have been identified in the hospitals and around the world that multiple health care workers have been affected fairly quickly. So I think that's what raised the international concern.

ZAHN: This disease hadn't been identified yet either as a virus or a bacteria. What is it?

CHOP: Well, I don't think we know at this point in time. Most, you know, it certainly appears to look like an infectious agent. Viruses are probably at the top of the list, but there are bacteria that could cause similar clinical syndrome.

ZAHN: When you hear about how fast it's being transmitted, of course, there's a lot of fear across this country. We confirmed a case in L.A. What are the symptoms people should be aware of?

CHOP: Well, I think the CDC case definition works quite well, and that requires a fever above 100.5, significant respiratory symptoms and exposures to individuals or travel to the areas in Asia that have been outlined. Those are really the requirements for the case definition that people need to be concerned.

ZAHN: Finally this morning, the CDC has advised people to not do what they call nonessential travel to Asia because of that. Does that make sense to you?

CHOP: Absolutely. I think that until we know more about what is causing this syndrome and illness and the fact that it has caused a number of deaths, that people should follow the CDC recommendations and avoid nonessential travel to those regions that are affected.

ZAHN: And thank you this morning for helping us better understand what the whole world seems to be up again here. Dr. Jeffrey Chop, appreciate it.

CHOP: Thank you.

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