LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
Interview With Dr. Barbara Mederski
Aired June 2, 2003 - 20:45 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now to the deadly illness, SARS. The death toll in Canada climbed again today to 32, after authorities tied a person who died two weeks ago to the illness. Canadian health officials are vowing to figure out how a second outbreak occurred in a month. One expert is raising a controversial theory about how SARS is spread. Dr. Barbara Mederski is head of infectious diseases and infection control at North York General Hospital. She joins us from Toronto. Doctor, thanks for being with us.
I'm trying to keep this as simple as possible to understand, basically your theory is, as I understand it, correct me if I'm wrong, is that someone can carry SARS, not show symptoms of it, but have it inside them. Is that correct?
DR. BARBARA MEDERSKI, NORTH YORK GENERAL HOSPITAL: Good evening, Anderson. Thanks for allowing me to reflect on this. I just would like to take a moment and thank my clinician colleagues at North York General whose contributions have actually been very important.
COOPER: Listen, I hate to interrupt, and I understand, but we really are tight on time. So (UNINTELLIGIBLE) people understand this, help me.
MEDERSKI: Basically, we have cases that have occurred in our hospital during the previous outbreak as well as the one ongoing right now who appear to have no connection with anyone who is actively ill, but who come from areas of the world that have already been defined as epicenters of the disease. So we have seen clusters of individuals who are health care workers, as well as individuals in the community whose only link to SARS appears to be an individual who either has been in a hospital in Toronto with SARS, but is otherwise well, as well as individuals who have been from the Orient in the epicenters of the disease but who otherwise appear to be well.
COOPER: I get that. Does that mean that they can spread it even though they don't have symptoms of it, in your theory?
MEDERSKI: It is very difficult to prove that at this point, because we haven't seen evidence of the spread elsewhere. But it hasn't actually been looked for in the broader community. It has been only reviewed in those people who present with symptoms, and perhaps in their immediate contacts. So it is a little bit of a stretch to extrapolate that it is in the community. What we can say is there may be asymptomatic carriers.
COOPER: All right. What does the CDC say about this? Because we contacted them. They wouldn't bring someone to talk to us tonight about it on camera. I know this is just a theory, and we just want to emphasize that. CDC, what do they say?
MEDERSKI: The CDC is working with us, as are a number of individuals from Health Canada. And again, there is no information forthcoming just yet. So they can't be blamed for not sharing anything, because this is still in the investigational stage.
COOPER: It's very early days on this. We understand that. Dr. Barbara Mederski, appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you very much.
MEDERSKI: Thank you.
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