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The World in Medicine
April 21, 2004

SARS Without Pneumonia?

JAMA. 2004;291(15):1826. doi:10.1001/jama.291.15.1826-d

The coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) rapidly achieved notoriety last year because of its capacity to cause an often fatal pneumonia. Now, findings from scientists in Hong Kong suggest that the SARS coronavirus may often cause subclinical infection without pneumonia in populations affected by outbreaks (Lancet. 2004;363:841-844).

The researchers examined the seroprevalence of the SARS virus in nearly 800 individuals without signs of respiratory tract infection, including healthy blood donors who gave blood during the Hong Kong SARS outbreak, health care workers, and children and adults hospitalized for other reasons. Three of the blood donors and one of the pediatric patients had evidence that they had been infected with the SARS coronavirus—an infection rate of about 0.5% compared with a rate of about 0.025% for SARS pneumonia among Hong Kong residents.

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