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CDC: 5 U.S. cases of coronavirus confirmed

Melissa Jenco, News Content EditorJanuary 27, 2020

Five cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the U.S., and federal health officials are preparing diagnostic kits so states can perform their own testing.

Cases have been confirmed in Arizona, California, Illinois and Washington and all involved adults who traveled to Wuhan, China, the center of the outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“At this time in the U.S., this virus is not spreading in the community,” said Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “For that reason, we continue to believe the immediate health risk from the new virus to the general American public is low at this time.”

Thirty-two people have tested negative, and 73 potential cases are still under investigation.

While the CDC has been handling testing, it has created a test to diagnose the new coronavirus in respiratory and serum samples and plans to send it to domestic and international partners in the next couple of weeks. It also has posted a testing protocol online, which Dr. Messonnier described as “essentially a blueprint to make the test.”

“We are doing everything we can to make it as fast as possible,” she said. “We understand that for patients, clinician and health departments, it is much preferable to have that kit as close as possible to the patient geographically so we can efficiently provide a result.”

China first reported cases in late December and linked the virus to a large market with seafood and live animals in Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million people and a major transportation hub. The pathogen is genetically similar to those that caused outbreaks of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and there is evidence of human-to-human spread.

The global case count has reached 2,886, and there have been 81 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. While most of the cases are in China, cases have been confirmed in about a dozen other countries, including Thailand, Australia, the U.S., Japan, South Korea and France.

“So far, most of the information coming out from China, which is certainly where the majority of cases are, is that the disease is by far, majorly in adults, with older adults and those with underlying illnesses at higher risk,” Dr. Messonnier said.

The CDC is continuing to screen passengers arriving from Wuhan at international airports in Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta and may expand screening in the coming days.

It recommends people avoid non-essential travel to Hubei Province, China. People traveling to other parts of China should discuss their plans with their health care provider and take precautions.

Clinicians should be vigilant for people who have a fever and respiratory symptoms and who traveled Wuhan within 14 days of symptom onset or were in close contact with a confirmed or suspected coronavirus patient. If they suspect a case, they should take infection-control precautions and immediately contact their state or local health department to facilitate testing. Detailed guidance is available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/clinical-criteria.html.

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