Precautions in ophthalmic practice in a hospital with a major acute SARS outbreak: an experience from Hong Kong

Eye (Lond). 2006 Mar;20(3):283-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6701885.


Many new infectious diseases in humans have been derived from animal sources in the past 20 years. Some are highly contagious and fatal. Vaccination may not be available and antiviral drugs are not effective enough. Infectious control is important in clinical medicine and in Ophthalmology. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), as an example, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that has recently been reported in Asia, North America, and Europe. Within a matter of weeks, the outbreak has evolved to become a global health threat and more than 30 countries have been afflicted with a novel Coronavirus strain (SARS-CoV) that is the aetiologic agent of SARS. The primary route of transmission of SARS appears involving close person-to-person contact through droplets. Ophthalmologists may be particularly susceptible to the infection as routine ophthalmic examinations like direct ophthalmoscopy and slit-lamp examination are usually performed in a setting that has close doctor-patient contact. Being the Ophthalmology Department of the only hospital in the world that has just gone through the largest outbreak of SARS, we would like to share our strategy, measures, and experiences of preventing contracting or spreading of SARS infection as an infection control model. SARS is one of the many viruses against which personnel will need protecting in an ophthalmic setting. The experiences attained and the measures established might also apply to other infectious conditions spreading by droplets such as the avian influenza with H5N1.

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / instrumentation
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures
  • Ophthalmology / organization & administration*
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission