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Senator: CDC should focus on SARS in U.S.

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NEW YORK, New York (CNN) -- Sen. Charles Schumer urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get directly involved in containing the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- SARS -- in the United States.

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While commending the CDC's efforts in investigating SARS worldwide, Schumer said it is time to deploy the center's epidemiologists and health experts to New York and others areas in the United States where the virus has recently spread.

"The CDC is doing great work by sending our experts to other countries to help with SARS outbreaks there," said Schumer (D-New York). "But as more and more SARS cases are discovered here at home, it's time for us in New York to get the same expert advice to prevent a full-blown outbreak."

Thursday, New York state health department officials identified SARS in a 71-year-old Westchester County woman. Seven of New York state's confirmed SARS cases are in New York City.

Schumer said New York state is at particular risk for SARS because so many international travelers arrive at area airports and because it shares a border with Ontario, Canada, where more than 100 cases of SARS have been reported.

The majority of people with SARS in the United States had traveled recently to China, Hong Kong, Singapore or Vietnam.

Schumer said there is no reason for New Yorkers to avoid areas with significant Asian-American populations, such as New York City's Chinatown. None of the New York City SARS cases reside in Chinatown, he said.

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