CDC sees first US case of coronavirus as deadly cases increase

World

NORFOLK, Virginia (WAVY/AP) — The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday afternoon that the first case of Wuhan coronavirus has been reported in the United States in Washington state.

The man returned to the Seattle area in the middle of last week after traveling to Wuhan in central China, where the outbreak began. The Snohomish County resident is in his 30s and was in good condition Tuesday at a hospital in Everett, outside Seattle.

He’s not considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said.

Coronavirus usually starts with a mild to moderate upper respiratory tract illness — similar to the common cold. Symptoms include runny nose, cough, sore throat, possible a fever. 

Coronavirus is spread between humans, according to Doctor Edward Oldfield, professor of Medicine at EVMS and medical director for infection prevention for Sentara Healthcare. 

“It started out kind of slow, there were maybe a handful of cases each week, it seems like over the last four days, it’s doubled over the last couple of days,” said Dr. Oldfield. “We don’t know how infectious it is, but now we know there are at least 16 healthcare workers who are infected.”

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness, following China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

Late last week, U.S. health officials began screening passengers from Wuhan at three U.S. airports — New York City’s Kennedy airport and the Los Angeles and San Francisco airports.

On Tuesday, the CDC announced it will add Chicago’s O’Hare airport and Atlanta’s airport to the mix later this week.

What’s more, officials will begin forcing all passengers that originate in Wuhan to go to one of those five airports if they wish to enter the U.S.

Officials around the world have implemented similar airport screenings in hopes of containing the virus during the busy Lunar New Year travel season.

“The key, I think, for people is one, to stay away from people with respiratory symptoms, whether it’s the flu or something else, [and] use good cough etiquette like covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue,” Oldfield said. He says hand-washing with soap and water for 20 seconds should kill off the virus. 

The U.S. resident had no symptoms when he arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma airport last Wednesday, but he contacted doctors on Sunday when he started feeling ill, officials said.

Last month, doctors began seeing a new type of viral pneumonia — fever, cough, difficulty breathing — in people who spent time at a food market in Wuhan. More than 275 cases of the newly-identified coronavirus have been confirmed in China, most of them in Wuhan, according to the World Health Organization.

The count includes 17 deaths, none of which are in the United States.

Officials have said it probably spread from animals to people, but this week Chinese officials said they’ve concluded it also can spread from person to person.

Health authorities this month identified the germ behind the outbreak as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold; others found in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses.

SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, belongs to the coronavirus family, but Chinese state media say the illness in Wuhan is different from coronaviruses that have been identified in the past. Earlier laboratory tests ruled out SARS and MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome — as well as influenza, bird flu, adenovirus and other common lung-infecting germs.

The new virus so far does not appear to be as deadly as SARS and MERS, but viruses can sometimes mutate to become more dangerous.

CDC: CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

University of Washington coronavirus researcher David Veesler said the public “should not be panicking right now.”

The response has been “very efficient,” Veesler said. “In a couple of weeks, China was able to identify the virus, isolate it, sequence it and share that information.”

Veesler added: “We don’t have enough data to judge how severe the disease is.”

It is unclear how they became infected, and if this person has transmitted the virus to anyone else in the United States.

CDC: Human coronavirus types

The CDC states: “Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Seven different coronaviruses, that scientists know of, can infect people and make them sick. Some human coronaviruses were identified many years ago and some have been identified recently. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide. Two newer human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe illness.”

Stay with WAVY for updates.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

WAVY Twitter Widget

WAVY Facebook

Trending stories