Asia travel advisory issued, updated April 2

March 18, 2003 7:13 p.m.

response to reports of increasing numbers of cases of an atypical pneumonia that the World Health Organization (WHO) has called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued alerts that may impact travelers from the campus community.

The WHO issued an advisory on April 2 and the CDC issued an advisory on March 31, both recommending that elective or nonessential travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Hanoi, Vietnam be postponed until further notice.

Princeton University Chief Medical Officer Daniel Silverman also strongly recommends all students, faculty and staff defer nonessential travel to these areas and that they visit the CDC and WHO Web sites for up-to-date information on this situation. Additional information for travelers is available in the Department of State's fact sheet on SARS .

Members of the University community with questions concerning the advisability of international travel in the case of an emergency or who are experiencing upper respiratory symptoms with a recent history of travel to the affected areas should contact University Health Services at (609) 258-3141 for additional information. For non-emergency questions or travel planning, please schedule a consultation with Travel Medicine during regular business hours.

The CDC has been working with the WHO since late February to investigate and confirm outbreaks of this severe form of pneumonia in Vietnam, Hong Kong and parts of China. As of March 31, 72 suspected cases were under CDC investigation in the United States, including one in New Jersey. The outbreaks appear to primarily involve individuals who have traveled to parts of the world where cases are prominent, and health-care workers and close family contacts to these suspect cases.

"The emergence of two clusters of this illness on the North American continent indicates the potential for travelers who have been in the affected areas ... to have been exposed to this serious syndrome," said Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, CDC director. "The World Health Organization has been leading a global effort, in which CDC is participating, to understand the cause of this illness and how to prevent its spread. We do know that it may progress rapidly and can be fatal. Therefore, we are instituting measures aimed at identifying potential cases among travelers returning to the United States and protecting the people with whom they may come into contact."