What SARS teaches about bird flu, article

Aug. 17, 2006 at 5:22 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Two Chinese doctors are offering lessons learned in the SARS epidemic to the world, hoping they will be used if bird flu breaks out.

In the August issue of the British Medical Journal, Nanshan Zhong and Guangqiao Zeng spoke about their experiences during China's three outbreaks of SARS between November 2002 and May 2004.

"The lessons we learned while facing up to these events can improve our medical performance in the future for management of new epidemics, such as human avian influenza," the authors said.

The lessons of SARS were:

Honesty is needed and information must be disseminated as soon as possible, or panic will result;

Controversy can lead to lost chances and laboratory workers and health professionals must share all information in close collaboration;

Conclusions may be premature so take your time and make sure they are right;

Be aware that some centers may be flouting regulations, so insist on strict adherence to scientific standards.

Zhong and Zeng said that SARS is currently under control in China but has not been eradicated. They suggested that all medical professionals should collaborate closely in the future to contain emergent infections, public officials should work closely with these professionals to create useful public policy on infectious disease, and an international monitoring system should be set up for early alerts.

Both physicians work at the Guanzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases in Guangzhao, China.

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