Concerns over the spread of novel coronavirus continue to grow after five Arizona residents were confirmed to have contracted the respiratory illness. In China – where the virus first was detected last year - millions have been quarantined in affected cities and foreigners are being evacuated.
Worldwide, the number of cases surpasses 100,000 in 97 countries
Chinese health officials believe the virus came from an animal source in the city of Wuhan that then spread person-to-person.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that affect animals, including camels, cats and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Officials suspect the novel strain, identified as 2019-nCoV, emerged from the SARS virus, which killed hundreds around the globe in 2003. There is no vaccine for coronavirus.
Symptoms include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath and can appear anywhere between two days or two weeks after exposure. The novel coronavirus spreads person-to-person, much like influenza, and can easily be contracted through exposure to someone who has the virus.
In the current outbreak, the CDC said, symptoms have ranged from infected people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying. Older people and those with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable. In the United States fatalities climbed to 21, with 554 confirmed cases across 34 states and the District of Columbia.
The CDC offers these recommendations to reduce the spread of viruses:
• Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, or use a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
•Avoid direct contact with people who are sick.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes.
• Stay home if you’re sick.
• Clean and disinfect items you use on a regular basis.
If you think you might have been exposed to novel coronavirus,
Stay home except to get medical care
• Stay home: People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care.
• Avoid public areas:Do not go to work, school, or public areas.
• Avoid public transportation: Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing, or taxis.
Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
• Stay away from others: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.
• Limit contact with pets & animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.
When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.
• Call ahead before visiting your doctor. If you have a medical appointment, call the healthcare provider and tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed
For updates and more information visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov