• By Dana Sparks

Infectious Diseases A–Z: Novel coronavirus outbreak

January 21, 2020
microscopic 3D illustration of coronavirus

The first U.S. confirmed case of the novel coronavirus is in Washington state, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC statement says it is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The coronoavirus is moving human-to-human and has killed at least seventeen people, according to Chinese officials. More than 500 people have reportedly been sickened, seven of those illness cases are outside China.

"It is a coronavirus, so in the same family of viruses that SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) were in, which increases concern about this," says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group.

Watch: Dr. Poland discusses the coronavirus in a Skype interview.

The World Health Organization is creating an expert panel to determine whether a global health emergency should be declared.

"People should be reminded that respiratory precaution measures work — wash your hands, stay away from ill people, wear a mask, and remain at home if you're feeling ill," says Dr. Poland.

He adds that there are multiple companies working on coronavirus vaccines but nothing will be licensed for at least a year, perhaps longer.

"The CDC released a travel advisory bulletin for Americans traveling over to that area," says Dr. Poland. "So I think if you have been in that area and you develop a viral syndrome, a cough, that's something you need to tell your health care provider."

Learn more: Novel coronavirus: What is it and how can I protect myself?

Media Alert: For an interview with a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases expert please contact our Media Relations Newsroom Newsbureau@mayo.edu507-284-5005. 

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