The first reports came in February 2003. Two people in Hong Kong were coming down with a new type of flu. Then there were other reports—people in China were getting sick with high fevers, headaches, body aches, and other symptoms too. Could these cases be the same disease? Was there a new and deadly flu on the loose? CDC started working to crack the case.
The first clue led nowhere—the flu in Hong Kong (influenza A H5N1) was rare and dangerous, but…it wasn’t what the people in China had. No one knew what that disease was yet. (Eventually, scientists called the new disease Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS). A mysterious and rapidly spreading illness?!? Now THAT was a case worth going after.
CDC called on some of their best detectives—including Ali Khan, Keiji Fukuda, Mary Reynolds, Dan Rutz, and Julie Gerberding—to work together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and investigators from each of the countries where SARS was spreading.