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Saturday, April 12, 2003

Connecticut Officials Confirm Suspected SARS Cases in Fairfield County

Two weeks after WestportNow.com reported that Connecticuts first suspected case of severe acute respiratory illness was in southwest Connecticut, state health officials have confirmed there indeed have been at least two suspected cases in Fairfield County.

But state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the state should release more information about the suspected cases of the illness, known as SARS, including where those patients live, according to an AP report.

There have been four suspected SARS cases in Connecticut, but until Thursday, the state health department refused to say where those patients live. On Thursday, a news release gave a county breakdown—two in Fairfield County (in two different towns), one in New Haven County, and one in New London County.

The officials said the four Connecticut patients suspected of having SARS are recovering.

On Thursday, Blumenthal wrote a letter to Department of Public Health Commissioner Joxel Garcia, urging him to release additional information, the AP said. DPH subsequently gave the county breakdown. But on Friday, Blumenthal told the Journal Inquirer of Manchester that wasn’t good enough.

“My feeling continues to be that the names of towns should be released because disclosure serves public interest, and there is virtually no chance of intrusion on patient privacy,” Blumenthal told the newspaper.

Health officials are citing patient confidentiality issues. Spokesman William Gerrish said identifying the towns “would not serve a public health purpose,” the AP said.

On March 28, WestportNow.com reported that area medical officials had received word that a southwest Connecticut resident was involved and were asked to be especially vigilant about suspected cases. The patient had recently traveled to an Asian country where the illness had been reported.

WestportNow.com has subsequently confirmed that at least one of the suspected Fairfield County patients was a Westport resident who travels abroad frequently for business and has fully recovered.

Health officials have stressed that local residents should not be alarmed since the cases are suspected and not confirmed.

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Posted 04/12/03 at 04:02 AM  Permalink



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