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Int J Occup Environ Health. 2004 Oct-Dec;10(4):421-7.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and healthcare workers.

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Department of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China.


The recent outbreak of severe acute respiratory synt drome (SARS) was spread by international air travel, a direct result of globalization. The disease is caused by a novel coronavirus, transmitted from human to human by droplets or by direct contact. Healthcare workers (HCWs) were at high risk and accounted for a fifth of all cases globally. Risk factors for infection in HCWs included lack of awareness and preparedness when the disease first struck, poor institutional infection control measures, lack of training in infection control procedures, poor compliance with the use of personal protection equipment (PPE), exposure to high-risk procedures such as intubation and nebulization, and exposure to unsuspected SARS patients. Measures to prevent nosocomial infection included establishing isolation wards for triage, SARS patients, and step-down; training and monitoring hospital staff in infection-control procedures; active and passive screening of HCWs; enforcement of droplet and contact precautions; and compliance with the use of PPE.

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