Mystery Illness

By: Sahar El-Hodiri
By: Sahar El-Hodiri

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A mystery illness that is spreading around the world may have reached Wichita. A Sedgwick County man may be the first case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in Kansas.

Sedgwick County Health Department spokesperson Pat MacDonald says the patient has a history of traveling to one of the countries affected by the disease. She says he is receiving treatment at Via Christi St. Francis. A hospital spokesperson says he is in isolation and is listed in fair condition.

Health officials say there are nearly 300 cases of the disease known as SARS around the world. With only eleven of those cases in the U.S., doctors say they are surprised to find one in Wichita.

This week the Kansas Health Department asked health care workers to watch for this global threat. Infectious disease physician Dr. Thomas Moore has been treating the Wichita patient. He says that even with the worldwide alert, they did not anticipate seeing a case of SARS in Wichita.

Doctors are still waiting for final test results from the Centers for Disease Control. Although the patient meets the case definition of SARS, doctors are not sure if he actually has the virus. They are in the process of looking into other possibilities.

Right now there is no known cure for SARS. Symptoms include a temperature of 100.4 degrees, a cough and breathing difficulties. If you have these symptoms and have recently traveled to China, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, Switzerland, or Canada, call your doctor.

A hotel in Hong Kong seems to have strong links to SARS. Health officials say three of seven patients who stayed on the hotel's ninth floor died from the disease.

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