Date: 08 Jan 2004

Measures to Prevent Healtcare Workers from Contracting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome During High-Risk Surgical Procedures

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Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a contagious viral disease caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and transmitted through droplets and close contact [1]. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are particularly at risk when looking after SARS patients. As reported by the World Health Organization [2] more than 20% (386) of those infected with SARS in Hong Kong were HCWs. Described here are the infection control procedures undertaken at a hospital in Hong Kong when three Caesarean sections were performed on women with active maternal SARS infection.

SARS-CoV infection had been confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction in all three mothers prior to the time of operation. The operations were performed between 1 April and 5 April 2003. None of the HCWs (>15) involved in the three separate operations developed fever or clinical SARS within 14 days of exposure.

When the operations were performed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; Atlanta, Ga., USA) had not