Health officials are closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (termed “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which continues to expand. As of 1/24, two cases have been confirmed in the United States. Anyone who has traveled to China in the last 14 days and has symptoms of respiratory illness should seek medical care. Please contact your health care provider by phone before going to their office or to an urgent care or hospital. The most up-to-date information on the situation is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html.
It is unclear how easily the virus is spreading between people at this time. Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Guidance for Travelers
See https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/watch/novel-coronavirus-china for updates. If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with MERS and SARS. When person-to-person spread has occurred with SARS and MERS, it is thought to have happened via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of SARS and MERS between people has generally occurred between close contacts. Past MERS and SARS outbreaks have been complex, requiring comprehensive public health response.
While the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time, there are simple daily precautions that everyone should always take. As always, and especially during flu season, we recommend basic prevention strategies for everyone: good hand washing, covering your cough, getting your flu shot, and staying away from others when sick.
Further information from the CDC: