This info is posted from Canadian Blood Services Executive Management Team regarding SARS to answer employee questions. I thought it might be useful and so am posting it here. Mods, if this is the wrong forum, please move it. I have removed questions that are employee specific.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Questions & Answers
What is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)?
SARS is a severe form of pneumonia, accompanied by a fever. Left untreated, it can be fatal.
What are the symptoms of SARS?
Symptoms of SARS include high fever (over 38 degrees Celsius or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and one or more respiratory symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing.
How is SARS transmitted?
SARS is believed to be spread by droplets coming from infected individuals who are coughing, have high fever and feel unwell. Scientific experts feel direct contact i.e., having cared for, lived with, or having had direct contact with respiratory secretions and body fluids of a person with SARS is required for transmission.
Who is at greatest risk?
Individuals who have had direct contact with SARS patient, or have travelled to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, or Vietnam (the city of Hanoi), should monitor themselves for 10 days, watching for symptoms.
Is SARS transmissible by blood?
There is currently no evidence of transmission through blood and as SARS is a respiratory illness it is unlikely that SARS is transferred via blood. For a virus such as SARS to be transmitted through blood it is necessary for the virus to be present in the blood at the time of donation. Although we don’t know for certain, it is believed that if the donor feels well and does not have a fever, then it is very unlikely that the virus is present in the blood and therefore, the virus could not be transmitted by blood.
Should donor clinics be cancelled?
No, scientific experts agree that the general public in not at risk for SARS unless they come in contact with people who exhibit symptoms and who have contact history. Blood donor clinics are not hospitals. Generally speaking, people attending clinics are feeling well.
Should clinic staff/volunteers wear masks during clinics?
No, masks are only recommended when an individual is in direct contact with a SARS patient (for example, in a hospital setting) or have visited a quarantined hospital facility.
What if a donor who was in contact with SARS attends a clinic?
Donors with possible exposure will be turned away at the Registration Desk and asked to speak to their Public Health Officials.
According to Public Health officials, donors who have been in contact with SARS patients should be at home under precautionary quarantine for 10 days after last contact, and should not be attending the clinic. However, if a quarantined donor attends a clinic and is feeling well, since there is a small chance that they are infectious, they should be deferred until the quarantine period is up. As the SARS quarantine is precautionary, household contacts are not subject to quarantine as long as they have observed the quarantine recommendations outlined by Public Health and the person under quarantine remains well and is permitted to donate provided he/she meets all eligibility requirements.
Why are people being quarantined?
Only individuals who were in the same facility as SARS patients are being asked to stay home for 10 days as a precautionary measure to limit potential spread of this illness. This is a public health containment measure.
Why a 10-day quarantine?
Scientists have observed that the incubation period for SARS appears to be from two to seven days, with some up to 10 days. The 10-day quarantine is to prevent the spread of illness.
What if a donor attends a clinic and mentions that he/she was in quarantine for SARS? Is he/she eligible to donate?
Provided the quarantine period is over and the donor meets all other eligibility requirements, he/she will be eligible to donate. Donors who are still under quarantine should not attend a blood donor clinic.
What if an Autologous or Directed donor wants to donate blood, but has been in the hospital?
If the potential donor was appropriately protected during his/her hospital visit, he/she is not considered at risk. If the potential donor attended a quarantine hospital prior to protective measures being taken, then he/she should be in voluntary quarantine for 10 days after their last visit. If subject to the quarantine, the donor may donate once the quarantine is over. However, as elective surgery may be cancelled, he/she should contact their physician before making an autologous donation to avoid discard of blood should the surgery be postponed.
What happens if I am quarantined?
Public Health remains in close phone contact with quarantined individuals. They are asked to take their temperature twice daily and report readings to Public Health. Face masks are provided if the quarantined individual interacts with others at home.
Am I at risk because I work with donors or blood?
Risk amongst the general public and CBS clinic staff should be low when compared to hospital staff. High risk exists when an individual has had recent travel to Asia (China, Hong Kong, Singapore or Hanoi, Vietnam) at risk or when he/she comes in contact with someone who has both the symptoms and history of contact with SARS.
How are we protecting the blood supply?
Our existing screening process is designed to protect the blood supply. It is expected that anyone with SARS would not feel well enough to be attending a blood donor clinic as the condition progresses quickly. If donors with SARS were to attend a clinic, their answer to the very first question on the ROD “Are you feeling well today?” would immediately defer them. As per our standard procedures every donor is required to call us if he/she has any illness or diarrhea within 7 days after donation. Canadian Blood Services will then remove the blood donated from inventory.