The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reinstated a travel alert for Toronto, Canada, because of reports of new possible cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
CDC lifted the travel alert on May 20, 2003, because more than 30 days (or three SARS incubation periods) had elapsed since the date of onset of symptoms for the last reported case. However, on May 22, Canadian health officials reported a cluster of five new probable SARS cases, which led to todayís reinstatement of CDCís travel alert for Toronto.
In response to the outbreak of SARS, CDC has issued two types of notices to travelers: advisories and alerts. A travel advisory recommends that non-essential travel to an area be postponed. A travel alert does not advise against travel to a particular area, but informs travelers of a health concern and provides advice about precautions they can take to reduce their risk of exposure.
CDC is again recommending that U.S. travelers to Toronto take precautions to safeguard their health. These include avoiding settings where there has been evidence of transmission of SARS, such as health care settings. CDC does not recommend the routine use of masks or other personal protective equipment while in public areas.
Global Migration and Quarantine officials from CDC will again be distributing health alert cards to travelers returning to the United States from Toronto. The cards outline the symptoms of SARS and recommend that people returning from Toronto monitor their health for 10 days and alert their physician if they develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath.
CDC also recommends that travelers to Toronto practice careful hand hygiene Ė a first line of defense for reducing an individualís risk of a variety of infectious diseases, such as SARS. As a general rule, CDC recommends frequent hand washing with soap and water. If hands are not visibly soiled, alcohol-based hand rubs may be used as an alternative.
Anyone planning travel to Toronto should be aware of the current SARS outbreak, stay informed daily about SARS through various Websites, including www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/ and www.who.int, and closely follow recommended travel advisories and infection control guidance at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/sars/ic.htm.
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