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2007 SARS Policy
(156 kB)

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HPA SARS Information









Travellers with Respiratory or Rash Illness

Page updated 30 April 2007

Travellers with Respiratory or Rash Illness

Key Points

Patients with certain highly infectious or fatal diseases will be transferred to an Infectious Diseases Unit (IDU)

If a patient with a highly infectious disease is suspected, call the Infection Control Team straight away!

These diseases include:


The aim of this guideline is to protect staff members, visitors and other patients from respiratory infection.

Short Action Guide

Within the context of current information about an epidemic or bioterrorist act:



Some infections are risky to carers. They are mainly transmitted by aerosol droplet so cannot be prevented by hand hygiene alone. They include common highly infectious exanthematous rash illnesseses like chickenpox or measles, which are a particular risk to non-immune and immunocompromised contacts but are often preventable by immunisation. Tuberculosis is also transmitted by the aerosol route but is much less infectious.

Some infections such as smallpox have been eradicated but may reappear by terrorist action either in the United Kingdom or abroad. Anthrax is also extremely rare in the UK and restricted to certain workers at high risk. Anthrax may also be dispersed by terrorist action. Respiratory or pulmonary anthrax is potentially infectious to others. Many other organisms (e.g. Pasteurella pestis [the cause of the plague], or Francisella tularensis which we would not expect to meet in hospitals in the UK have been proposed as bioterrorist weapons).

The problem is that most febrile patients DO NOT HAVE an infectious disease which is particularly a risk to others. However, that infection needs to be diagnosed and treated quickly, be it malaria, typhoid or meningitis. Because laboratory tests on certain samples from patients with dangerous diseases pose a danger to laboratory staff, there may be a reluctance to perform certain tests when a dangerous condition is suspected. However, anxieties about this theoretical risk must not be allowed to compromise the management of ill patients with potentially treatable conditions.

The assessment of any case will be made in the light of current epidemiology. Recent experience with SARS and the anticipated problems with influenza illustrate the continually changing nature of the risk of dangerous agents.

Therefore these policies will be updated appropriately when new conditions are threatened.

These management policies are not appropriate for the management of acute presumptive UK-acquired influenza A in the context of an established UK epidemic.