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Fact Sheet

March 20, 2003

The SARS Investigation: The Role of CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine

CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine works with federal agencies, state and local health departments, and travel industry and other organizations to prevent the introduction of communicable diseases into the United States. CDC has 8 fully staffed quarantine stations, sometimes known as Public Health Service Stations or PHS, in the United States.

Quarantine inspectors serve as important guardians of health at borders and ports of entry into the United States, routinely responding to illness in arriving passengers and ensuring that the appropriate medical and/or procedural action is taken.

During the ongoing investigation into the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak (see, CDC’s quarantine officials are playing an important role.

Quarantine officials (or their designees) are:

  • Providing information to returning travelers arriving in the United States either directly or indirectly from Hong Kong, Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China and Hanoi, Vietnam on airplanes, cargo ships or cruise ships;
  • Distributing health alert notices to those travelers (see, advising them that they may have been exposed to cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and they should monitor their health for at least 7 days and to contact their physicians if they become ill with a fever accompanied by a cough or difficulty in breathing;
  • Boarding airplanes and ships with travelers reported to be ill to assess whether their symptoms match the case definition of SARS (see;
  • Providing timely updates to government agencies partnering in these activities as well as to travel industry organizations;
  • Working with CDC’s SARS investigation team and local and state health departments to assist in the investigation of suspected cases of SARS.

Quarantine Stations

CDC’s quarantine stations are located at the following airports:

  • Hartsfield International Airport (Atlanta)
  • Miami International Airport
  • O’Hare International Airport (Chicago)
  • JFK International Airport (New York)
  • Honolulu International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Tom Bradley International Airport (Los Angeles)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

For more information, visit the website of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at

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CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

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This page last updated March 21, 2003

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