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Sporadic contact with unfamiliar source makes epidemic unlikely
  1. T W Wong
  1. Department of Community and Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 4/F, School of Public Health, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong;

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    Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has caught the world off guard. The outbreak first started in November 2002 in Guangdong province of China and reached Hong Kong in February 2003. It then spread quickly through jet travel to various countries. After several months of menace to healthcare workers and the community, SARS died down as suddenly as it appeared, sparking a question whether it will return this winter or later. To help us make an “educated” guess, we have to consider several factors.


    Many viral respiratory diseases demonstrate a distinct seasonal pattern. However, the underlying reasons for this seasonality have not been fully understood. Influenza peaks in the winter months in temperate countries, which has generated hypotheses ranging from closer indoor personal contact in winter to the more intriguing relation with latitude and solar radiation.1 A similar pattern has been observed with respiratory syncytial virus infections, with …

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    • * Dietary preferences like eating exotic wildlife originate from a traditional Chinese folk belief that extra nutrition is needed—rich in wildlife meat—in cold seasons.