Federal health officials are urging physicians to be vigilant for severe respiratory illness in patients who recently traveled to China where there is an outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology.
Since Dec. 1, 2019, 59 people in China have gotten sick with symptoms like fever, difficulty breathing and bilateral lung infiltrates on chest radiograph. There have not been any cases in the U.S. or any other country, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health advisory.
Chinese health officials believe the illnesses may be linked to animals at a wholesale fish and live animal market about 700 miles south of Beijing in Wuhan City, Hubei Province. No cases of human-to-human transmission have been reported.
The CDC has issued a travel notice to take precautions in Wuhan City, a major transportation hub, including handwashing and avoiding animals and sick people.
The CDC recommends physicians consider pneumonia in patients with severe respiratory symptoms who traveled to Wuhan since Dec. 1, 2019, had symptoms within two weeks of returning and have no other known diagnosis. They should collect nasopharyngeal, nasal, throat swab and lower respiratory tract specimens and consider saving urine, stool, serum and respiratory pathology specimens. Clinicians should notify infection control, state and location health departments immediately. States then should contact the CDC at 770-488-7100.
Health care workers also should take precautions by having suspected patients wear surgical masks and evaluating them in private rooms. Personnel also should use contact precautions and wear N95 disposable facepiece respirators. In an inpatient setting, take standard, contact and airborne isolation precautions. For additional information, see https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/isolation/index.html.