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Wednesday, May 14, 2003

State Department of Health Indirectly Confirms Suspected Westport SARs Case

Copyright 2003 by WestportNow.com



The State Department of Public Health (DPH), bowing to outside pressure to provide more information about suspected SARS cases in Connecticut, has indirectly confirmed a WestportNow report last month that the stateɒs first such case in February involved a Westport resident.

The person, who had traveled to Hong Kong on business and came down with a cough and fever after returning home, has now fully recovered. But uncertainty whether the person actually had SARS lingered for weeks.

In a news release, the department also said the number of suspected cases in the state has risen by one to nine. The latest case involves a resident of Hartford County who visited Toronto in April.

Connecticut has not yet had a confirmed case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, but state health officials have reported six suspected cases of the disease and three others classified as probable. Three of the suspected cases were in Fairfield County.

The indirect confirmation of the suspected Westport case came in a new department breakdown on its Web site of a listing of each suspected or probable SARS case in the state and the patient’s diagnostic and public health status. It gave the patients county of residence but not hometown.

The DPH has resisted calls from state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, some state legislators, and newspapers that it provide the hometowns of those suspected of SARS. The department said such information would violate patient confidentiality and potentially cause undue concern.

In its Web site listing, the DPH said the first suspected case occurred the week of Feb. 3 in Fairfield County to a person who had traveled to Hong Kong. It said that person was not hospitalized, did not have a known exposure to a person with SARS, had a final negative test for Coronavirus and was no longer being monitored.

The information matches precisely the details provided to WestportNow about the case in March by persons familiar with the case. In its first report on March 28 about the case, WestportNow said merely that the person lives in southwest Connecticut and that the partient had come down with a cough and fever in February after visiting an Asian country.

This was four days after the DPH made its first public announcement that there had been a suspected SARS case in Connecticut.

On April 12, WestportNow reported that it had subsequently confirmed that at least one of the suspected Fairfield County patients Җ there had been two at the time—was a Westport resident who travels abroad frequently for business and has fully recovered.Ӕ

WestportNow deliberately withheld additional information about the patient and the case. But the details provided today by the DPH leave no doubt that the first reported suspected Connecticut case by the agency and the one reported by WestportNow in March were the same one, involving a Westport resident.

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Posted 05/14/03 at 07:32 PM  Permalink



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