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The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in China, the occurrence of epidemics of SARS in China and a number of Southeast Asian countries, and its spread to countries elsewhere, have presented major challenges to public health systems throughout the world. Although very few true cases of SARS were detected in the United Kingdom, the public health response to the threat of SARS was considerable. The main components of this response were the early detection, isolation and reporting of cases, and the provision of comprehensive information to health professionals, cases, their contacts and the public. The development of the response to SARS raised a number of more general issues relevant to future infectious epidemic threats. Although the World Health Organisation has now declared SARS 'contained', the possibility of re-emergence is ever present. All countries will need to be vigilant and plan their response to the possibility of a renewed SARS epidemic.


Journal article


Communicable disease and public health

Publication Date





209 - 215


Health Protection Agency, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ.


Humans, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Population Surveillance, Public Health, Health Planning, United Kingdom