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Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014

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SARS update issued, June 18

Following a new alert from federal officials, the University has removed the provinces of mainland China, except for Beijing, from its temporary travel moratorium as the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in those areas appears to have been contained.

The temporary moratorium on University-sponsored travel remains in effect for areas most affected by SARS: Beijing and Taiwan. The University's travel moratorium does not apply to programs already under way, such as Study Abroad. Because of the changing nature of the SARS situation, the moratorium is subject to an ongoing review. University community members are encouraged to regularly visit the Princeton home page for updates.

President Shirley M. Tilghman continued the moratorium on travel to Beijing and Taiwan based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Based on CDC recommendations, the University on June 18 downgraded the remaining provinces of mainland China to its list of "alert" areas, meaning community members who must travel there should be alert to a possible increased risk of SARS and observe precautions to safeguard their health. Hong Kong and Toronto also are included in this "alert" list. The CDC recommends that travelers avoid visiting hospitals and health care facilities caring for SARS patients. It is also suggested that travelers follow careful hand hygiene and monitor their health while in those areas and for at least 10 days after leaving there.

Regarding Beijing and Taiwan, President Tilghman has announced that -- based upon recommendations of the CDC and WHO , and in consultation with University Chief Medical Officer Daniel Silverman -- Princeton has taken the following steps:

  • alerting the campus community that a temporary travel moratorium to endemic SARS areas is now in effect;
  • strongly recommending that members of the campus community who elect to travel on their own to these areas receive medical clearance from University Health Services before reentering the University community;
  • encouraging all students, faculty and staff members who intend to travel to the endemic areas or who have recently returned from those areas to immediately contact Dr. Peter Johnsen , the University Health Services travel medicine specialist, for consultation;

  • requesting all University members who are expecting visitors to the campus from the affected areas to contact (or have the guests contact) Dr. Johnsen prior to arrival;
  • advising all Princeton affiliates who are currently working or residing in the endemic areas to travel only after contacting Dr. Johnsen, to avoid crowded public areas whenever possible and to continue monitoring the University's Emergency Preparedness Web site for updates.
  • Dr. Johnsen, who can be contacted by e-mail at johnsenp@princeton.edu or telephone at (609) 258-3141, can answer questions about medical conditions related to SARS and travel plans.

    The symptoms and signs of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

    The illness usually begins with a fever (measured temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.0 degrees Celsius). The fever is sometimes associated with chills or other symptoms, including headache, general feeling of discomfort and body aches. Some people also experience mild respiratory symptoms at the outset. After two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry, nonproductive cough.

    Any members of the Princeton community who have traveled to the identified geographical regions recently and are experiencing symptoms similar to those above should seek immediate medical evaluation.

    Advice to travelers

    The CDC has been working with the WHO since late February to investigate and confirm outbreaks of this severe form of pneumonia in various countries. The travel advice is intended to limit further international spread of SARS. The SARS situation, which is rapidly evolving, is under constant assessment by WHO in collaboration with three global networks of experts. The new advice is issued as part of a series of measures that will change as more information about SARS becomes available.

    The WHO maintains a list of affected areas on its Web site. The CDC maintains a daily list of suspected cases in the United States.

    For more information, the CDC has issued travel advisories and alerts about SARS. It also maintains a page of frequently asked questions about SARS.

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