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Health officials: Toronto transit passenger had SARS

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Communion was given to people in their hands as opposed to in the mouth during Sunday’s Easter mass in Toronto, Canada, in fear of SARS.

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• Frequently Asked Questions: SARS 
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SARS FACTS

Suspect case: A person who develops high fever (greater than 38 C / 100.4 F) and respiratory symptoms such as cough, breathing difficulty or shortness of breath, within 10 days of

1) having had close contact with a person who is a suspect or probable case of SARS.
or
2) having traveled to or resided in an affected area.

Probable case:  A suspect case with chest X-ray findings of pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome.

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TORONTO, Ontario (CNN) -- Public transit commuters around Toronto may have been exposed to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and should check themselves for symptoms, Toronto public health officials said Sunday.

The Ministry of Health issued an advisory Sunday saying an infected person traveled on a GO Transit train last week. Commuters who sat next to that person might have been exposed to the fast-spreading respiratory illness.

Passengers who may have been exposed should monitor themselves for symptoms until April 25, officials said.

The statement was released by Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's Acting Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Bob Nosal, the Medical Officer of Health for the Halton Region, which covers four cities on Toronto's southwestern edge.

The doctors said the infected person traveled at least 25 minutes on the GO train with other passengers on two occasions: from Union Station to Appleby Line at 4:30 p.m. April 14 and again on the Appleby Line to Union Station at 7:32 a.m. April 15.

The doctors emphasized there is a low risk of exposure to anyone who did not share seating with the infected person.

Symptoms of SARS can include fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, aches and respiratory problems, such as pneumonia. The time from exposure to development of symptoms appears to range from two to 10 days, health officials have said.

Sunday's advisory calls for anyone who can specifically recall sitting on the second deck in a middle car in a four-person seating pod to check themselves for symptoms.

To help potentially exposed passengers better identify themselves, health officials said the three other passengers in the pod on the Tuesday morning trip discussed SARS, and one was apparently reading from a communicable disease handbook.

GO Transit carries 44 million passengers a year, according to its Web site. Its network of trains and buses link Toronto to the surrounding regions.

So far, Toronto has 132 probable cases of SARS, according to the World Health Organization. Worldwide, there are 3,547 probable cases and 182 deaths -- 12 of which have occurred in Canada, the WHO said.


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