A Kansas man who visited China recently and became seriously ill with symptoms matching those of the mysterious SARS seems to have recovered after a one-week quarantine that included taking antibiotics and having his lungs drained of fluid.
Mark VanCamp of Wichita traveled with his wife and children to China on Feb. 19 to pick up their newly adopted baby daughter, 10-month-old ZoraLin.
The family spent two weeks in Guangdong province, the section of the country where severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, is believed to have originated. After returning home on March 5, he was the only member of the family who subsequently displayed signs of illness.
The tests that Mark VanCamp has taken for SARS so far have come back negative, but he expects to get further test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of this week.
"I started having respiratory problems in China, but I thought it was because of the humidity," he told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "When I got back to Wichita, I was still feeling sick and my doctor thought it was an internal muscle sprain, so he gave me a muscle relaxer. When I went back again, they thought I had pneumonia, and they gave me cough syrup."
After he became increasingly ill, his doctor prescribed an antibiotic.
"That's when my fever reached 101.5 and my wife read about SARS," he said.
As of now, the World Health Organization is reporting about 2,150 cases, with 78 deaths around the world, Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention in Atlanta, said at a briefing today.
The CDC is reporting 85 suspected cases in the U.S. in 27 states, with no deaths. About 20 U.S. patients have developed pneumonia. The most-affected states are California and New York.
Among the U.S. cases, five involved people in households with SARS patients and two were health care workers caring for SARS patients. Most of the others were people exposed through travel.
Masked in Public
Christy VanCamp heard about the sometimes-fatal illness through an e-mail group that includes other parents adopting children from China.
"Then, I went to the CDC Web site and printed out the symptoms and Mark had every single one of the symptoms that we could diagnose on our own," she said.
Christy called the CDC and then took Mark to the emergency room, where he was quarantined for a week. Doctors drained a pint and a half of fluid from his lungs, which helped greatly. He began to feel better soon after.
Initially doctors worried that Christy and the children might have been exposed.
"At first, I was given masks for both Mark and I, and I was told to wear a mask when I left the hospital and when I went out in public," Christy VanCamp said. "But then doctors said that my daughters and I would be showing symptoms by now if we had it, because we had been exposed back in China."
Mark VanCamp said he is still a bit tired and has a slight cough, but hopes to return to work next week.
The SARS outbreak has infected almost 1,900 people since it started in southern China late last year. In recent weeks, cases have turned up in Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Germany and elsewhere.
California officials quarantined a plane from Tokyo on Tuesday after five people arriving from Hong Kong were said to have displayed symptoms of SARS, but doctors later said none actually had signs of the illness.
Evidence continues to point strongly to a version of the corona virus (the virus that causes the common cold) being the cause of SARS, Gerberding said. The CDC is now beginning to release to states the results of testing for corona virus in SARS patients, but they caution they have not tested enough patients to confirm the link. Other viruses remain under investigation.
Gerberding stressed that at this point, the CDC has no plans for mandatory isolation of sick patients, or quarantine of people who may have been exposed to SARS. She said the events at the San Diego airport yesterday were a perfect example of how the system is supposed to work.