Update, 2:28 pm: According to the King County Health Department, the person did not have symptoms while at Sea-Tac International Airport, and this makes transmission less likely. CDC is currently evaluating whether there were any exposures of concern. The man sought medical attention soon after experiencing symptoms and followed procedures to prevent exposure to others. He was quickly isolated in accordance with CDC guidance, so the risk of exposure from this case is low.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that the first case of Wuhan coronavirus has been reported in the U.S. and it’s in Washington State.
The man is a resident of Snohomish County, who returned from a trip to the Wuhan region of China last week. His infection was identified on Monday.
The virus was first identified last month in Wuhan, China, and has infected more than 300 people in China. Now identified in six countries, it is responsible for six deaths.
Symptoms include pneumonia-like characteristics, including fever, cough, and chest pains. It is a strain of coronavirus that targets the nose, throat, and sinuses.
The CDC has implemented screening of incoming passengers at the three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan, China: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.
A number of other countries are also actively screening incoming travelers from Wuhan. Exported cases have been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, and Korea.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people such as has been seen with MERS and SARS. Past MERS and SARS outbreaks have been complex, requiring comprehensive public health responses, the CDC wrote.
Many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China have reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. That market was closed down in early January for sanitization.
A growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting limited person-to-person spread is occurring, according to the CDC.
On Jan. 17, the CDC deemed the risk to U.S. citizens to be low, but four days later announced that the first case had been confirmed stateside.