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Argentina Checks Woman for Deadly Pneumonia
Fri March 21, 2003 01:44 PM ET
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) - A 36-year-old Argentine woman was rushed to hospital off a flight from Rome on Friday after showing symptoms of what could be a mysterious deadly pneumonia spreading fear across the world, officials said.

No confirmed cases of the pneumonia, which has killed at least 10 people in an outbreak that reached from Hong Kong to Germany to Canada and the United States, have surfaced in Latin America.

An Argentine Health Ministry spokesman said the rest of the passengers on the Air France flight were checked by doctors on arrival. They were deemed free of symptoms and allowed either to continue their journeys in Argentina or take the same plane on to Santiago in neighboring Chile.

"She has symptoms which are compatible with a severe pneumonia," said Health Ministry spokesman Ricardo Persoli, saying the unnamed woman was still undergoing checks. "This case does not yet pose risks to the rest of the population."

Doctors said the woman was being treated in isolation.

It was not immediately clear how many people had arrived on the flight. Air France officials declined to comment.

World health officials have failed to isolate and identify the germ or germs involved in the outbreak. The infection is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The World Health Organization has reported a total of 306 cases worldwide, but its figures excluded an outbreak in China that may have been the source of the infection. Five people died in that outbreak, making the potential global death toll 15.

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