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Emerg Infect Dis. 2005 Jan;11(1):6-10.

Border screening for SARS.

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  • 1Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, Health Canada, 100 Colonnade Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9, Canada. rstjohn@hc-sc.gc.ca


With the rapid international spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) from March through May 2003, Canada introduced various measures to screen airplane passengers at selected airports for symptoms and signs of SARS. The World Health Organization requested that all affected areas screen departing passengers for SARS symptoms. In spite of intensive screening, no SARS cases were detected. SARS has an extremely low prevalence, and the positive predictive value of screening is essentially zero. Canadian screening results raise questions about the effectiveness of available screening measures for SARS at international borders.

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