Tulsa County's SARS patient says he's feeling better

Wednesday, April 30th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The latest developments on a suspected case of SARS in Tulsa County. The man suspected of bringing the SARS virus home from Hong Kong, tells the News on 6 his fever is back to normal, and he's feeling better.

As News on 6 anchor Tami Marler shows us, he's done exactly what health officials hoped he would do.

The images are startling enough, seemingly entire societies taking extraordinary measures to avoid a disease that's suddenly taken hundreds of lives worldwide. "Well I think we saw the lack of effectiveness initially in China where they didn't really sound the alarm very robustly." Dr. James Hutton is an infectious disease specialist.

He says SARS remains an epidemic in China, partly because they were the first to deal with the new virus and partly because of their initial indifference. "Didn't mobilize their own health resources, didn't ask for assistance from other health resources, and it has become, and still remains a substantial problem in China."

Hutton says it's a very different story here in America, where the death rate from SARS is 0%, thanks to close communication between physicians, local health departments, and the CDC. "I think we have an excellent chance of being able to keep it from becoming an epidemic, I sure do." Because of worldwide media coverage about SARS, the Tulsa City-County Health Department was anticipating a lot of questions when they announced the first suspected case here in Tulsa County, but the phone center, was quiet. Wednesday it's quiet in the epidemiology department, the "SARS scare" seems to be over. So their work tracking a host of other symptoms and illnesses continues, with local hospitals, pharmacists - and the CDC.

“This is a public health function - and it has been for a number of years - for many types of different diseases, including influenza and Hepatitis, Salmonella and e coli, all those types of diseases. We investigate each and every one, to try to protect the community." Matt Sharpe says the man suspected of having SARS, received a card from the CDC when he got off the airplane. That's how he knew to call his doctor, "before" going in and potentially infecting someone else.

That's one of the ways health experts say we're going to keep it under control.