FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) In late December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began to monitor an outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China.
The CDC considers the risk to the general American public from the novel coronavirus as low. (Storyblocks Images/Ramzi Abou Ghalioum/KTVF)
Common coronaviruses, named for their shape which resembles a crown, are known to cause upper-respiratory tract illnesses, similar to the common cold. Coronaviruses are also responsible for the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the novel coronavirus can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. However, infected people can vary from showing little to no symptoms, to being severely ill and dying. Symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure.
Neither the CDC nor the World Health Organization (WHO) explicitly say how transmission of the virus occurs, but the WHO suggests that previous outbreaks of coronavirus including SARS could mean that transmission may occur via droplets in the air, contact between people, and via fomites, or physical objects which can carry the disease.
As of January 28, the WHO reports 4,593 confirmed global cases of novel coronavirus-related illness. It also reports 106 deaths, all in China. In the United States, the CDC reports 5 confirmed cases from Arizona, California, Illinois, and Washington. No other states have reported illnesses, and no deaths have occurred in the U.S.. The CDC currently considers the immediate health risk to the American public as low.
According to the CDC, there is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for infection with novel coronavirus. Anyone infected with the virus should receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms.
The CDC recommends the following prevention measures:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
More information is available on the CDC novel coronavirus website.
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