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City's proximity to Fort Campbell doesn't increase SARS risk, says med tech director

April 29, 2003

The SARS virus is spreading and has become a full-fledged epidemic in Beijing. Recently, the Chinese capital closed schools and hospitals in a effort to contain the virus. Perhaps stronger than the virus is the fear it's creating.

Dr. Mary Mayo, director of Austin Peay State Universitys Medical Technology Program and associate professor of biology, says Clarksville is no more vulnerable than any other location.
April 29, 2003

The SARS virus is spreading and has become a full-fledged epidemic in Beijing. Recently, the Chinese capital closed schools and hospitals in a effort to contain the virus. Perhaps stronger than the virus is the fear it's creating.

Dr. Mary Mayo, director of Austin Peay State University's Medical Technology Program and associate professor of biology, says Clarksville is no more vulnerable than any other location.

“If a person returned to Clarksville after traveling in an area endemic for the virus, there exists the potential to carry the virus here,” says Mayo.

Clarksville's proximity to Fort Campbell wouldn't necessarily put the area at greater risk unless there were a greater percentage of persons coming to Fort Campbell that had been traveling in endemic areas.

“The limiting factor is the exposure of a person to the virus and the person being a vehicle for transmission,” says Mayo.

The virus is primarily spread through respiratory secretions, although other routes of transmission have not been ruled out. Mayo says good hygiene techniques, such as hand washing, use of respiratory precautions and avoidance of crowded areas, may help prevent the spread of the virus.

Regarding the closing of Beijing schools, Mayo says she thinks it is a good idea.

“Since schools are crowded, enclosed areas and children are notorious for not covering their mouths when coughing and not washing their hands properly, it probably is a good idea to close schools in affected areas to decrease the spread of the virus,” says Mayo.