PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The CDC announced this morning there are still five confirmed cases of the emerging virus in the USA.
Suspected cases exist in 26 states with a possible case in Pennsylvania: An exchange student who traveled from China to Philadelphia. So, what do we need to know about this virus to protect ourselves as best we can?
“Part of the risk we face right now is that we don’t yet know everything we need to know about this virus,” said Alex Azar, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.
That word from Washington on Tuesday morning is about what’s called the novel coronavirus. It’s an upper respiratory infection that started in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
“The Wuhan strain commingled with other common strains of coronavirus,” said Dr. Alison Brodginski, Geisinger Infectious Diseases Specialist.
According to Dr. Brodginski, that commingling turned a typically mild infection into something potentially deadly.
“We are monitoring the situation very closely,” Dr. Brodginski said.
People diagnosed with coronavirus start off with something as simple as a cough.
“It’s not uncommon that they present like they would with any other respiratory-type infection. That includes fevers, body aches, cold,” added Dr. Brodginski.
Even pneumonia. The incubation period of novel coronavirus is two weeks.
“Our current assessment is that the immediate health risk of this new virus to the general public is low in our nation,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.
“Although we don’t have an immediate concern in this area, we are ensuring that we are screening all of our patients properly,” said Dr. Brodginski.
That means asking Geisinger patients about recent travel to China. While U.S. health officials insist the coronavirus outbreak should not impact Americans day-to-day life, it’s still considered a public health threat.
“I think it’s important that we’re continuing to monitor the situation daily,” Dr. Alison Brodginski said.
While there is currently no vaccine to ward off novel coronavirus, Dr. Brodginski advises some hygiene basics.
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Live information about the Coronavirus outbreak can be found here.