The second confirmed case of the coronavirus in the United States was reported in Chicago today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.). The announcement came only a day after the C.D.C. issued an official Level 3 Travel Warning urging all Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to Wuhan, China- the location in which the current coronavirus originated.
Global health officials have reported a total of 916 confirmed cases, and 41 fatalities linked to the coronavirus to date. Although little is still known about this rapid-moving virus, similarities between the current coronavirus outbreak and the SARS virus that killed 774 people in 2003 have all countries around the world on high alert.
What We Know
The new coronavirus, also known as the 2019-nCoV, is a respiratory illness presenting similarly to influenza. The C.D.C. reports coronaviruses are a part of a large family of viruses that can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. The two deadliest strains of coronaviruses in recent history include SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), collectively killing 1,056 people worldwide.
Symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV include:
- runny nose
- sore throat
- difficulty breathing
- a general feeling of being unwell
Serious cases of the coronavirus may lead to life-threatening conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The most at-risk groups for developing these conditions include infants, adults 65 and older, and individuals with compromised immune systems.
The severity of 2019-nCoV is not yet known. However, global health officials report the current coronavirus is spreading at a faster rate than SARS, killing 26 people in just over 30 days.
Confirmed Locations of Coronavirus
The majority of confirmed coronavirus cases have been located in mainland China, particularly in the city of Wuhan. Chinese officials believe the virus originated from a ’wet market’- a traditional Chinese food market where animals are freshly slaughtered for purchase and the risk for cross-contamination is high.
Two confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the United States as of the C.D.C. announcement today: one case involves a 60-year-old woman from Chicago, the other a man in his 30’s from Washington. Both individuals had recently returned from traveling to China within days of their diagnosis. Another possible coronavirus scare was reported in New Jersey this morning, but tests later confirmed the patient was not infected.
The United States is currently investigating another 63 patients across 22 states who may be possible carriers of the coronavirus. Other locations with confirmed cases of the coronavirus include Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Macau, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan.
Can The Virus Be Contained?
Chinese officials have taken several extreme steps to reduce further spread of the coronavirus outside of Wuhan and surrounding areas: a travel lockdown issued for central China banning travel for over 35 million residents, the closing of Shanghai Disney until further notice, the construction of quarantine centers for sick patients, and suspension of public transportation to nearby towns.
Global health officials continue to monitor the spread of the virus and fear its rapid expansion could lead to the next pandemic. At this time, health officials are unclear as to how the coronavirus is spreading from person-to-person.
How To Protect Yourself
Citizens who are most at risk of contracting the coronavirus include anyone who has recently visited Wuhan, China, or who has come in contact with an infected traveler. Travelers who frequent international airports and are not traveling to Wuhan may also be at a higher risk of infection from coming in contact with travelers returning from countries with active outbreaks.
The C.D.C. advises all travelers, particularly those who are traveling to Wuhan, to use the following safety precautions to reduce your risk of infection:
- Wear a mask to reduce exposure.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer throughout the day to kill germs when soap and water are unavailable;
- Avoid contact with people with confirmed illnesses;
- Do not travel without consulting with your healthcare provider.
Any traveler who arrives from Wuhan may be subject to a health screening. These screenings may include a questionnaire, and a thermometer read. Anyone with active symptoms may be required to undergo additional health assessments to reduce the spread of the virus.
If you believe you are suffering symptoms of the coronavirus or that you might have been exposed to someone with active symptoms, call your healthcare provider immediately to create a plan for treatment.
Stay Informed To Stay Safe
All Connecticut residents can make a difference in reducing the spread of infection by staying alert and up to date. For more information on the coronavirus, visit the informational links below: