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Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2003: Volume 7/ Issue 21 Article 1
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Eurosurveillance, Volume 7, Issue 21, 22 May 2003

Citation style for this article: Horby P. First global consultation on SARS, 16-17 May. Euro Surveill. 2003;7(21):pii=2231. Available online:

First global consultation on SARS, 16-17 May

Peter Horby (, Health Protection Agency Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London, England.

The first global consultation on the epidemiology of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) took place in Geneva on 16 and 17 May ( The purpose of the meeting was to ensure that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations are based on the best available scientific evidence and to review the available epidemiological information in the context of its relevance to effective public health practice. Sixteen countries, including all those most affected by SARS, were represented either in person, by video link, or by telephone. A number of experts in the mathematical modelling of infectious diseases were also present.

The group reviewed data on the incubation period, infectious period, case fatality ratio, routes of transmission, subclinical infection, and the reproduction number. The group concluded that the available data supports the control measures currently recommended by WHO. In particular, participants from the main outbreak sites noted the effectiveness of control measures aimed at rapidly identifying and isolating new cases. The group also reported that using ten days after last contact with a case as the period during which contacts should be monitored for symptoms has been effective. There remains no evidence that people without symptoms can transmit SARS. The experts also reiterated the importance of the WHO recommendation that people from SARS affected areas who have a febrile respiratory illness should not travel. A number of areas requiring further research and collaboration were identified including the susceptibility of children and pregnant women to infection, the rate of asymptomatic infection, the duration of infectivity, and the presence of animal reservoirs. The full conclusions of the meeting will be published shortly as a consensus document.

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