Cigna International Health Insurance

SARS Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. Department of State

Apr 11, 2003

This Public Announcement alerts Americans that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a number of travel advisories for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which are being posted on its web site at Also posted is a current list of SARS-affected countries. Health alert notices are being distributed at U.S. airports to people arriving from SARS-affected areas. Americans planning travel to SARS-affected areas should monitor the CDC's web site for the latest information. In addition, Americans should be aware that some countries may bar entry to those travelers arriving from SARS-affected areas. U.S. citizens may wish to check with Embassies and/or Consulates of countries they plan to visit prior to travel. Prospective parents of adoptees in SARS-affected countries should consult the appropriate link on adoptions at the CDC website, This supersedes the Public Announcement issued on March 28, 2003, and the Fact Sheet on SARS issued on March 28, 2003.

The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are tracking SARS's origin and method of transmission, as well as determining how its spread can be contained. In light of the continually evolving nature of the geographic spread of SARS, American citizens should regularly consult the CDC's website ( and the WHO's website ( for updates.

Strong efforts are being made to contain SARS. Countries have implemented measures such as mandatory screening of incoming passengers at airports, and persons with SARS-like symptoms may be quarantined and/or sent to designated hospitals until the authorities are satisfied they do not have SARS. U.S. Government employees in SARS-affected countries who are known to have had contact with a SARS-infected person have been instructed not to go to work until 7-10 days after the last contact with that person. Medical evacuation currently cannot be arranged from SARS-affected areas, because no commercial airlines or air ambulance services are willing to transport SARS patients.

Most SARS cases appear to involve health-care workers caring for SARS patients and close family contacts. The CDC is working closely with the WHO and country partners to define the origin of this infection, to track patterns of its transmission, and to determine effective strategies for its control and prevention.

The CDC has identified the following three criteria, which must ALL be present, by which a potential SARS case may be identified:

  • Fever greater than 38° C (100.4°F), AND
  • One or more signs or symptoms of respiratory illness including cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, hypoxia (low oxygen in the blood), x-ray findings of pneumonia, or respiratory distress, AND
  • One or more of the following within 2-10 days of the onset of symptoms: Travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Vietnam; and/or close contact*, with a person who has been infected with SARS
(*close contact means having cared for, lived with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions (such as coughs and sneezes) and body fluids of a person with SARS).

The incubation period between exposure to infection and the development of symptoms appears to range from 2-10 days. Currently, prevention of new cases is based on individuals avoiding close contact with SARS-infected persons as described above. Persons matching the case description for SARS should be promptly evaluated by medical personnel and notify local health authorities. Persons suspected of having SARS should severely limit their interactions with others.

Contact Information for the CDC:

Public Inquiries:

English (888) 246-2675
Spanish (888) 246-2857
TTY (866) 874-2646
Mon-Fri 8am-11pm EST
Sat-Sun 10am-8pm EST


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333
USA(404) 639-3311

American citizens currently in or planning to travel to SARS-affected areas should also consult the Department of State's Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, and Consular Information Sheets for each SARS affected country, all of which are available at the Consular Affairs web site at American citizens also contact the Department of State toll-free at 1-888-407-4747, or if calling from overseas, 317-472-2328, for information.

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