Breaking News: Death Toll Rises In Coronavirus Epidemic... Readmore
2020-01-24 13:22:391 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (Image source: Public domain)
In just a matter of three days, the United States has two confirmed cases of a deadly virus centrals to China: coronavirus. On Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the second case, a Chicago woman who returned this month from Wuhan.
Coronaviruses incorporate many viruses under the same title and normally affect animals but can be spread to humans. What makes the disease, temporarily named 2019-nCoV, hard to identify is that we're in the middle of the flu season, yet this virus can be seen as flu-like, with symptoms of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can progress to pneumonia.
It was first identified just a few weeks back on December 31 and has already killed at least 26 people in China and infected more than 900 people across the globe. There are 63 cases being monitored across the U.S. in 22 states, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The first to be diagnosed in the U.S. was in the state of Washington. The man has been quarantined in a hospital outside of Seattle. He had flown back from Wuhan and reached out to local health authorities last week after pneumonia-like symptoms started.
The second is a Chicago woman in her 60s. She's doing well and is seen as stable yet remains in isolation in a hospital as a precautionary measure, U.S. health officials said on a conference call with reporters. She traveled to China in late December but only started to experience symptoms after returning to the U.S. last week.
"She was not symptomatic when flying. And based on what we know now about this virus, our concern for transmission before symptoms develop is slow, so that is reassuring," said Chicago's public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Once back int he U.S., the Chicago patient had limited movement outside of her home. She didn't use public transportation or go to any large gatherings. A few days after returning home, she started to not feel well and contacted her doctor.
"CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation continues to evolve rapidly," said Messonnier, stating there is likely to be more cases in the near future. "We have our best people working on this problem."
U.S. health officials recommend people call a health-care provider before they seek treatment so that appropriate measures can be taken. The disease currently takes about four to six hours to diagnose after a sample arrives at the lab, but they are trying to speed up testing to get results quickly to state health officials.
"We're really working to understand the full spectrum of the illness with this coronavirus," explained Messonnier. "The problem with this time of year is it's cold and flu season, and there are lots of cold and respiratory infections circulating."
The World Health Organization decided against formally designating the new virus as a global health emergency. There is an attempt to contain the disease without hurting global trade unnecessarily. They want more data before declaring an emergency, but it's now spreading through close human contact and in health-care settings.
Since this past weekend, passengers flying from China through major international airports in the U.S are being screened. Health officials said on Friday they've screened more than 2,000 people after 200 flights and have not found any cases of the coronavirus. 33 million people in China are now under travel restrictions.
This outbreak is being compared to the 2003 outbreak of SARS. One difference is that disease had a shorter incubation period of two to seven days, while officials say the new virus has an incubation of up to 14 days.
A former FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, said 2019-nCoV is likely more contagious but less severe than SARS. "We probably will have isolated outbreaks [of coronavirus in the U.S.], but that doesn't mean it'll translate to an epidemic," he said.
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