This document examines the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Taiwan, using the daily case-reporting data from May 5 to June 4, to learn how it spread so rapidly. The results indicate that most SARS-infected persons had symptoms and were admitted before their infections were reclassified as probable cases. This finding could indicate efficient admission, slow reclassification process, or both. The high percentage of nosocomial infections in Taiwan suggests that infection from hospitalized patients with suspected, but not yet classified, cases is a major factor in the spread of disease. Delays in reclassification also contributed to the problem. Because accurate diagnostic testing for SARS is currently lacking, the document concludes that intervention measures aimed at more efficient diagnosis, isolation of suspected SARS patients, and reclassification procedures could greatly reduce the number of infections in future outbreaks.
Emerging Infectious Diseases (February 2004), v.10, no.2, p. 201-206