Single imported case of novel coronavirus reported in Chicago, Ill, US Jan. 24. Individual isolated in hospital. Risk to public is low.

Severity: Informational Alert

This alert began 24 Jan 2020 21:57 GMT and is scheduled to expire 29 Feb 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Novel Coronavirus
  • Location(s): Chicago, Ill. (map)
  • Period: January 2020
  • Cases (Confirmed): 1 (1)

Summary
US health authorities in Chicago, Ill. reported a single confirmed imported case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Jan. 24 in an individual who arrived from Wuhan, China on Jan. 13. The individual arrived in the US prior to symptom development and did not use public transportation or attend large gatherings once they became sick. The individual is currently stable and hospitalized in isolation. Risk to the wider public is deemed to be 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 has been confirmed by Chinese health authorities, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Some reports suggest conjunctivitis (reddening associated with infection or irritation of the eye) may be an early symptom of 2019-nCoV, and that respiratory droplets from infected individuals may infect others via contact with the mucous membrane of the eye. Investigations into transmission and disease modeling are ongoing. The reported clinical signs and symptoms of 2019-nCoV infection are primarily fever, cough, chills, and difficulty breathing.

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.