The Deadly Virus That Just Entered the U.S. from China
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A coronavirus outbreak has caused hundreds of illnesses and 25 deaths in China. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed two official cases of the infection within the United States.
A person returning to Washington state from Wuhan, China,—where an outbreak of coronavirus is taking place—was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week. Today, the CDC said a second infection has been diagnosed in a Chicago woman who returned after traveling to the area. Texas A&M University has also confirmed that “a student may have a possible case of novel coronavirus.”
U.S. health officials are currently monitoring 63 other potential cases across 22 states. Despite a growing number of cases in Asia, the World Health Organization says “it is still too early to declare a public health emergency of international concern.”
This type of coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, was originally thought to spread from animals to people, “but person-to-person spread of 2019-nCoV is occurring,” the CDC says. So, how worried should you be? Here, everything you need to know about coronavirus, its symptoms, and what experts think about its potential impact within the U.S.
How worried should you be about coronavirus?
Hundreds of people in China have been infected with coronavirus and hospitalized, and it’s a little scary that it’s now in the U.S. But infectious disease experts say you shouldn’t panic. “The CDC is really on top of this,” Dr. Schaffner says.
Infectious disease doctors and public health officials are also “very aware” of coronavirus around the country, he adds, and many have implemented steps where patients with respiratory symptoms are now asked whether they’ve recently been to China or have had contact with someone recently who has been to the country. If the answer is “yes,” they’ll be quarantined.
People coming through five different airports in the U.S. are also now being screened for coronavirus, which can help detect cases early. “We have two cases right now and they’re pretty well contained, but we can expect more,” Dr. Adalja says. Despite the headlines, he also stresses that “contacts of the two case patients are being monitored and would only be contagious when symptomatic.”
To steer clear of any possible infection (especially during flu season), he says to practice good hand hygiene and try to steer clear of people who appear to be sick. The CDC also recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China.
By Korin Miller of Prevention Magazine