Lack of SARS Transmission and U.S. SARS Case-Patient

In early April 2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was diagnosed in a Pennsylvania resident after his exposure to persons with SARS in Toronto, Canada. To identify contacts of the case-patient and evaluate the risk for SARS transmission, a detailed epidemiologic investigation was performed. On the basis of this investigation, 26 persons (17 healthcare workers, 4 household contacts, and 5 others) were identified as having had close contact with this case-patient before infection-control practices were implemented. Laboratory evaluation of clinical specimens showed no evidence of transmission of SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection to any close contact of this patient. This investigation documents that, under certain circumstances, SARS-CoV is not readily transmitted to close contacts, despite ample unprotected exposures. Improving the understanding of risk factors for transmission will help focus public health control measures.