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Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  1. G Rezza
  1. Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr G Rezza; 

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A challenge for public health

In this issue of the journal, Lee and Abdullah focus on the adoption of hygienic and health promotion measures in Hong Kong for controlling the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).1 One of the interesting aspects of this work is that it provides an insider’s point of view, yet these hygienic measures need to be discussed in the overall context of the outbreak, including the other public health interventions that have been performed in both Hong Kong and other heavily affected cities.

It should first be mentioned that one of the distinguishing characteristics of SARS is that for the first time in many years the entire world has perceived an outbreak as a life threatening event with a great non-discriminatory potential for diffusion, whereas this has not been the case for other epidemics of emerging infections in the era of antibiotics. For example, despite the fact that the outbreaks of Ebola …

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