On Friday the CDC said that Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has infected 2,200 people worldwide. Dr. James Hughes, the CDC's Director of Infectious Diseases, likened this fast spreading mystery illness to a world wide fire drill or at least a wake-up call. There may be other emerging infections, possibly terrorist related someday. For now, 82 patients with SARS have died mostly in Asia and a few in Canada.
So, what do you do if you're planning to travel there? Instead of travel restrictions, the CDC has what it calls a 'Travel Advisory' that if you are planning non-essential travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam, or Singapore, you may wish to postpone that trip until further notice.
In Lubbock, travel agents tell us they are not discouraging clients from travel to the far east, but they do want them to be aware of the advisory. "As of today we've had one cancellation for a local business man. We've been telling our clients of a state issued travel advisory all people with non-essential travel to the far east," said Ann Nelson, Lubbock Travel Agent.
If you do travel to Asia, the CDC says expect airports in those regions to screen passengers for symptoms and even give out masks to protect against spreading the illness.