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      Pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan, China: potential for international spread via commercial air travel

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          There is currently an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown aetiology in Wuhan, China. Although there are still several unanswered questions about this infection, we evaluate the potential for international dissemination of this disease via commercial air travel should the outbreak continue.


          There is currently an outbreak of a pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan, China. While there are still several unanswered questions, we evaluate the potential for international dissemination of this disease via commercial air travel should the outbreak continue.

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          Most cited references 3

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          Identification of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Canada.

          Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a condition of unknown cause that has recently been recognized in patients in Asia, North America, and Europe. This report summarizes the initial epidemiologic findings, clinical description, and diagnostic findings that followed the identification of SARS in Canada. SARS was first identified in Canada in early March 2003. We collected epidemiologic, clinical, and diagnostic data from each of the first 10 cases prospectively as they were identified. Specimens from all cases were sent to local, provincial, national, and international laboratories for studies to identify an etiologic agent. The patients ranged from 24 to 78 years old; 60 percent were men. Transmission occurred only after close contact. The most common presenting symptoms were fever (in 100 percent of cases) and malaise (in 70 percent), followed by nonproductive cough (in 100 percent) and dyspnea (in 80 percent) associated with infiltrates on chest radiography (in 100 percent). Lymphopenia (in 89 percent of those for whom data were available), elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels (in 80 percent), elevated aspartate aminotransferase levels (in 78 percent), and elevated creatinine kinase levels (in 56 percent) were common. Empirical therapy most commonly included antibiotics, oseltamivir, and intravenous ribavirin. Mechanical ventilation was required in five patients. Three patients died, and five have had clinical improvement. The results of laboratory investigations were negative or not clinically significant except for the amplification of human metapneumovirus from respiratory specimens from five of nine patients and the isolation and amplification of a novel coronavirus from five of nine patients. In four cases both pathogens were isolated. SARS is a condition associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. It appears to be of viral origin, with patterns suggesting droplet or contact transmission. The role of human metapneumovirus, a novel coronavirus, or both requires further investigation. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Human Mobility and the Global Spread of Infectious Diseases: A Focus on Air Travel

            Greater human mobility, largely driven by air travel, is leading to an increase in the frequency and reach of infectious disease epidemics. Air travel can rapidly connect any two points on the planet, and this has the potential to cause swift and broad dissemination of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases that may pose a threat to global health security. Investments to strengthen surveillance, build robust early-warning systems, improve predictive models, and coordinate public health responses may help to prevent, detect, and respond to new infectious disease epidemics.
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              Identifying Future Disease Hot Spots: Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index.

              Recent high-profile outbreaks, such as Ebola and Zika, have illustrated the transnational nature of infectious diseases. Countries that are most vulnerable to such outbreaks might be higher priorities for technical support. RAND created the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index to help U.S. government and international agencies identify these countries and thereby inform programming to preemptively help mitigate the spread and effects of potential transnational outbreaks. The authors employed a rigorous methodology to identify the countries most vulnerable to disease outbreaks. They conducted a comprehensive review of relevant literature to identify factors influencing infectious disease vulnerability. Using widely available data, the authors created an index for identifying potentially vulnerable countries and then ranked countries by overall vulnerability score. Policymakers should focus on the 25 most-vulnerable countries with an eye toward a potential "disease belt" in the Sahel region of Africa. The infectious disease vulnerability scores for several countries were better than what would have been predicted on the basis of economic status alone. This suggests that low-income countries can overcome economic challenges and become more resilient to public health challenges, such as infectious disease outbreaks.

                Author and article information

                J Travel Med
                J Travel Med
                Journal of Travel Medicine
                Oxford University Press
                March 2020
                14 January 2020
                : 27
                : 2
                [1 ] Department of Medicine , University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
                [2 ] Divisions of General Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases , University Health Network, Toronto, Canada
                [3 ] Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute , St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada
                [4 ] BlueDot , Toronto, Canada
                [5 ] Department of Zoology , University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
                [6 ] Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases , London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
                Author notes
                To whom correspondence should be addressed. Email: isaac.bogoch@
                © International Society of Travel Medicine 2020. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:

                This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (

                This article is made available via the PMC Open Access Subset for unrestricted re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic or until permissions are revoked in writing. Upon expiration of these permissions, PMC is granted a perpetual license to make this article available via PMC and Europe PMC, consistent with existing copyright protections.

                Page count
                Pages: 3
                Rapid Communication

                sars, air travel, coronavirus, pneumonia, outbreak, zoonosis


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