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Taiwan girl isolated with SARS symptoms

By Associated Press
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 24, 2003

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A 12-year-old girl was in isolation at a hospital in Taiwan's capital today with SARS symptoms, health officials said.

If the girl has severe acute respiratory syndrome, she would be the first case since the World Health Organization removed Taiwan from its list of SARS-infected areas three weeks ago.

National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei reported the girl to health authorities on Wednesday, officials said.

The girl developed a fever two days after she returned from a trip to Shanghai on July 5, officials said.

"There is a high suspicion that this could be a SARS case," said Su Ih-jen, the chief of Taiwan's Center for Disease Control.

More definitive results should be available later today, Su said.

Seven people who had close contact with the girl have been quarantined, officials said.

Su voiced fears about the possible SARS situation in China, which was removed from the WHO's list of SARS-infected areas last month.

"If this case is confirmed as a SARS case, we must reevaluate the situation in Shanghai," Su said.

He said Taiwan's health authorities would have to discuss how to treat arrivals from China.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a flulike, sometimes fatal lung infection. In general, SARS begins with a fever greater than 100.4 degrees. Other symptoms may include headache and body aches. After two to seven days, SARS patients may develop a dry cough and have trouble breathing.

During this year's SARS outbreak, Taiwan registered 671 cases, including 84 deaths, the third highest number in the world, behind China and Hong Kong.

Taiwan was taken off the WHO's list of SARS-infected areas on July 5.

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