The first cases in the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome
(SARS) were reported in February 2003. From November 1, 2002 through August
7, 2003, a cumulative total of 8422 probable SARS cases and 916 SARS-related
deaths were reported from 29 countries to the World Health Organization. Three
articles in this issue of THE JOURNAL focus on this new infectious disease.
Pang and colleaguesArticle describe and evaluate measures undertaken
to control the largest local SARS outbreak, which occurred in Beijing, China,
in March 2003. Loutfy and colleaguesArticle report the results
of a preliminary study among patients with SARS comparing treatment with interferon
alfacon-1 plus corticosteroids with corticosteroids alone.
Gostin and colleaguesArticle discuss legal and ethical implications of public health strategies
used by countries to control the SARS outbreak and recommendations for responding
to future severe infectious disease threats. In an editorial, HughesArticle
urges preparedness planning, heightened vigilance, timely
reporting of disease, and interdisciplinary partnerships to contain the spread
of newly recognized pathogens.