Cases of novel coronavirus reported in multiple areas of the US in early February. Risk to public is low. Use basic health precautions.

Severity: Informational Alert

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Orange County, California
  • Everett, Washington
  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Anaheim

This alert began 07 Feb 2020 10:33 GMT and is scheduled to expire 07 Feb 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Novel coronavirus
  • Location(s): Multiple areas (map)
  • Period: January-February 2020
  • Cases: 11

Summary
US authorities have identified 11 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in several areas of the country since mid-January. Travelers arriving from Wuhan, China, imported four cases; health officials identified the fifth case Jan. 30 in Chicago, Illinois, in the family member of an individual with an imported case in the city. This represents the first locally acquired case of the disease in the US. Health officials have also reported imported cases in Maricopa County, Arizona; Orange County, California; Everett, Washington; and Madison, Wisconsin. All individuals are receiving treatment in isolation until their symptoms resolve. The risk to the public remains low.

Background and Analysis
Older individuals and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission is occurring, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people; however, preliminary investigations indicate the course of illness is not as severe as seasonal influenza, nor as contagious.

The incubation period of 2019-nCoV is approximately 1-14 days after exposure, the average being 3-7 days until symptoms appear. Infected individuals are contagious to others before displaying symptoms. These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to diarrhea, kidney failure, and pneumonia - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Additionally, avoid close contact with animals (dead or alive), and practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel

WHO coronavirus knowledge base