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Health Topics > Diseases > SARS > Interim Domestic Guidance for Management of School Students Exposed to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

Interim Domestic Guidance for Management of School Students Exposed to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

To date, all reported patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the United States have been exposed either through previous foreign travel to countries with community transmission of SARS or close contact (e.g. household members or healthcare workers) with SARS patients. Casual contact with a SARS patient at schools, other institutions, or public gatherings (e.g. attending the same class of public gathering) has not resulted in reported transmission in the United States. However, management of students exposed (i.e. through foreign travel or close contact) to SARS patients is a concern. The following are interim recommendations concerning management of exposed students.

  1. Exposed students who develop fever or respiratory symptoms (e.g. symptomatic exposed student) during the 10 days following exposure should avoid contact with others, seek immediate medical evaluation, and practice infection control precautions recommended for SARS patients in the home or residential setting. Symptomatic exposed students should not go to school or work, but should stay home while arranging healthcare evaluation; in advance of the evaluation, healthcare providers should be informed that the individual might be developing SARS.
  2. If symptoms do not progress to meet the suspect SARS case definition within 72 hours after first symptom onset, the student may be allowed to return to school or work, and infection control precautions can be discontinued.
  3. For students who go on to meet the case definition for suspected SARS (e.g. develop fever and respiratory symptoms), infection control precautions should be continued until 10 days after the resolution of fever, provided respiratory symptoms are absent or improving. Suspected SARS should be reported to local health authorities, school officials and other healthcare providers immediately.
  4. If symptomatic exposed student lives in a residence where appropriate infection control precautions cannot be implemented and maintained (e.g. there is no such alternative), the student should be hospitalized, or housed in a designated residential facility for convalescing SARS patients, where infection control precautions can be followed.
  5. Exposed students without fever of respiratory symptoms should not be excluded from school; however, these individuals should be vigilant for onset of illness, and the exposure should be reported to the appropriate points of contact (e.g. school officials and local health authorities).
  6. In a school which has a symptomatic exposed student enrolled during the 10 days following exposure, students (or their guardians, as appropriate) and school personnel should be educated concerning the symptoms of SARS, and the monitoring of these symptoms.

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