GREAT FALLS — The US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has been closely monitoring a novel strain of coronavirus that has caused an outbreak of pneumonia in China.
There have been only five confirmed cases within the United States - they are in Washington, California, Arizona, and Illinois. However, the cases in the U.S. are all people who had traveled directly to the Wuhan area.
At this point health professionals are urging people who have traveled to Wuhan within the past two weeks and develop a fever, cough, or have difficulty breathing to get medical attention. Officials are also asking that if these criteria are met, that you contact your doctor before going in to see them or going to an emergency department.
"They need to have specific symptoms, they need to have traveled to the Wuhan area, or they have to have had close contact; recent close contact with someone who is a confirmed case. So, we have a lot of systems in place in public health to watch out for that,” Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services epidemiologist said.
Anderson added that we are in the middle of cold and flu season here in Montana, and the best way to prevent the spread of either the cold, flu, or any virus is through washing hands, covering your cough, and staying home when you're sick.
The CDC website has more information about the coronavirus, including this overview:
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus ) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.