The first instance of person-to-person spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) has been confirmed in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most recent case of infection was in a person in Illinois who had no history of travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, but shared a household with a patient that was diagnosed with the virus on January 21, 2020. Both patients have been reported to be in stable condition. In a press release, the CDC stated that there has been some person-to-person spread among close contacts of infected travelers in other countries, however, how easily 2019-nCov spreads is still unclear.
“Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD. “We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”
Concerns over the spread of the virus in countries that may be ill-equipped to handle a potential outbreak led the World Health Organization (WHO) to officially declare the 2019-nCov outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.” Globally, there have been 7834 confirmed cases, the majority of which have been in China.
“More important than the declaration of a public health emergency are the committee’s recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus and ensuring a measured and evidence-based response,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. These recommendations include supporting countries with weaker health systems, accelerating the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, combating the spread of misinformation, reviewing preparedness plans and identifying gaps, and sharing data and knowledge globally. The committee also noted that measures that may unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade were not warranted.
According to the CDC, patients who meet the following criteria should be evaluated as a patient under investigation for 2019-nCov:
- Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness and in the last 14 days before symptoms onset, a history of travel from Wuhan City, China or close contact with a person who is under investigation for 2019-nCov while that person was will.
- Fever or symptoms of lower respiratory illness and in the last 14 days, close contact with an ill laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCov patient.
Recommendations for reporting, testing, specimen collection, and infection control can be found on the CDC website.
Coronaviridae is a large family of viruses, of which some strains cause respiratory illness in humans, while others circulate among animals such as camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people; this infection can then become epidemic among humans via respiratory droplets between close contacts, as occurred with the outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
For more information visit cdc.gov.