Home - Thursday 20.3.2003

Hospital diagnoses Finnish patient as having SARS

 Microbiological tests fail to give 100% confirmation

Link to a larger image
A middle-aged woman suffering from pneumonia symptoms after returning from a trip to Vietnam is believed to have the dangerous Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, which broke out recently in East Asia.
    Finland reported the diagnosis to the epidemic registry of the World Health Organisation on Wednesday.

The patient, who had returned from her trip on Saturday, is recovering from the disease.
    Also on Wednesday two other patients with flu-like symptoms were under observation as possible SARS sufferers. One of the cases proved to involve an ordinary respiratory infection, while the other remained unconfirmed.

The WHO has registered a total of 219 confirmed or suspected cases of SARS so far. Four people have died.
    In addition to Finland, suspected SARS cases have been noted in Sweden, France, and Spain, but had not yet been reported to the WHO as of Wednesday evening.
    Dr. Petri Ruutu, head physician at the National Public Health Institute, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the symptoms of the Finnish woman meet the criteria of SARS, but added that microbiological studies have not yet confirmed the diagnosis.

Public health officials are taking the epidemic seriously. All of those flying on the same plane as the woman who is now hospitalised have been sent a letter about the case.
    The National Public Health Institute has also given instructions to the airline Finnair on how to deal with a passenger who might possibly have been infected by SARS.
    Health care staff in the whole country have also been informed about the implications of the outbreak.
    Pauli Leinikki, a research professor at the National Public Health Institute, is hoping for a final diagnosis.
    On Tuesday Leinikki took part in an extraordinary meeting of the European Sero-Epidemiology Network. The EU representatives decided against imposing any travel restrictions, noting that the disease does not seem to be very contagious.
    The situation is to be examined, and the issue discussed further next week at a meeting of the Network.

Previously in HS International Edition:
 Suspected case of mysterious Asian pneumonia in Finland (19.3.2003)

Helsingin Sanomat

Back to homepage