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Press Release

May 14, 2003
Contact: CDC, Media Relations

CDC Calls for Meeting Plans Involving International Visitors to Continue

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today called for businesses and universities to continue plans for meetings and events - including college graduations - that involve travelers from areas affected by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The call came as the CDC issued new guidance aimed at assisting businesses, universities and other organizations that have employees from affected countries or that expect to host visitors from affected countries.

CDC does not recommend canceling or postponing plans for international meetings or gatherings that may include persons traveling to the United States from areas affected by SARS. Nor does CDC recommend quarantining persons arriving from areas with SARS who have no fever or respiratory symptoms.

CDC does recommend that all travelers arriving in the U.S. from areas affected by SARS receive yellow health alert notices that notify them of the importance of monitoring their health for the 10 days following travel. Persons who develop fever, cough or who have difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.

"The United States has always been and will continue to be a country that opens its doors to visitors from around the world. With appropriate public health measures, we can continue the kind of openness that characterizes our society despite this outbreak," says CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "The guidance we are releasing today provides institutions and organizations a sound and consistent approach to SARS prevention without stigmatizing individuals arriving in the United States from countries affected by SARS."

In the event that a visitor from an area with SARS develops a fever or respiratory symptoms while in the United States, CDC recommends three specific steps:

  1. Exclude the ill person from activities - such as classes, meetings and other public areas - and locate them in a separate area to minimize contact with other people while awaiting further medical evaluation;
  2. Alert appropriate health care personnel that an individual from an area with SARS requires evaluation, so that advance preparations can be made to implement infection control procedures to prevent transmission to others during transport and in the health care setting;
  3. Remind the treating health care provider to notify the appropriate state or local health officials if SARS is suspected. Additional information for health care providers about the management of persons with suspected SARS is available at

CDC has also outlined additional actions an organization can take to be prepared including sending basic information about SARS to meeting participants before departure to the United States, notifying meeting participants that persons traveling from areas with SARS with fever or respiratory symptoms or exposure to SARS patients within 10 days prior to scheduled departure should not travel and should seek medical evaluation, and giving participants tools to help them monitor their health, such as a thermometer and alcohol rubs for hand hygiene.

Casual contact with SARS patients at public gatherings has not resulted in documented transmission in the United States.

# # #

Note to editors: To access the guidelines online and for more information on SARS, visit the following CDC websites.

Interim Guidelines for Businesses and Other Organizations with Employees Returning from Areas with SARS

Interim Guidance for Institutions or Organizations Hosting Persons Coming to the United States from Areas with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

CDC SARS Homepage

Health Alert Notices

SARS Information for Travelers


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This page last updated May 14, 2003

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