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The first U.S. case of the novel coronavirus virus has been confirmed in a man from Snohomish County in Washington state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The patient, a man in his 30s, became ill after he returned to the U.S. Jan. 15 from Wuhan, China, which has been battling an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the respiratory virus (2019-nCoV) since December. He sought care at Providence Regional Medical Center - Everett in Snohomish County, where he is recovering. Based on the patient’s symptoms, a clinical specimen was sent to CDC overnight, and laboratory testing confirmed the diagnosis. A CDC team has been deployed to Washington state to support the investigation.
“CDC has been proactively preparing for introduction of this virus,” said Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a telebriefing with Washington state officials today. “We know today’s news is concerning ... now with close to 300 with the novel virus.”
Six patients have died, and while most of those who have been sickened with the virus live in China, several travel-associated cases have been reported in Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Older adults may be at increased risk for severe disease, Dr. Messonnier said. She added that the travel alert to Wuhan has been upgraded from level 1 to level 2 (see Resources).
The CDC is instituting enhanced airport screening of passengers arriving from China, part of a multilayered process.
In the coming week, health officials will begin public health entry screening of passengers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Screening was already in place as of Jan. 17 at New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports. To date, no one has been discovered with the virus through entry screening.
The CDC is working closely with global partners and has activated its Emergency Operations Center to provide support. In addition, the CDC is involved in the following:
- Alerting clinicians to be vigilant for patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to Wuhan, China;
- Developing guidance for clinicians for testing and management of 2019-nCoV, plus guidance for home care of patients; and
- Developing a diagnostic test to detect the virus in clinical specimens at a faster rate. Testing currently must take place at CDC, but the agency will share the test with domestic partners in the coming days and weeks.
While it was originally thought that the virus was spreading from animal to person, “there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people,” the CDC noted in a news release.
“… It’s crucial to be proactive and prepared,” Dr. Messonnier said.