Update on outbreak of SARS-like novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to closely monitor an outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China that began in December 2019. An outbreak of pneumonia of unknown etiology in Wuhan City was initially reported to WHO on December 31, 2019.

CDC has established an Incident Management System to coordinate a domestic and international public health response.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people; numerous other coronaviruses 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 Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

Chinese authorities report most patients in the Wuhan City outbreak have been epidemiologically linked to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting a possible zoonotic origin to the outbreak. The market was closed on January 1, 2020.

Chinese authorities additionally report that they are monitoring several hundred healthcare workers who are caring for outbreak patients; no spread of this virus from patients to healthcare personnel has been reported to date.

Chinese authorities are reporting no ongoing spread of this virus in the community, but they cannot rule out that some limited person-to-person spread may be occurring. China has reported that two of the patients have died, including one with pre-existing medical conditions. Chinese health officials publicly posted the genetic sequence of the 2019-nCoV on January 12, 2020. This will facilitate identification of infections with this virus and development of specific diagnostic tests.

On January 13, 2020 public health officials in Thailand confirmed detection of a human infection with 2019-nCoV in a traveler from Wuhan, China. This was the first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV documented outside China. On January 17, 2020 a second case was confirmed in Thailand, also in a returned traveler from Wuhan City. On January 15, 2020 health officials in Japan confirmed 2019-nCoV infection in a returned traveler from Wuhan City. These persons had onset dates after January 3, 2020. These cases did not report visiting the large seafood and animal market to which many cases in China have been linked.

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology (SOE) is forwarding this U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Update to Alaska health care providers for their situational awareness about the investigation of the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

Alaska health care providers should contact SOE at 907-269-8000, or 800-478-0084 after-hours to report patients with severe respiratory symptoms who traveled to Wuhan since December 1, 2019 and had onset of illness within two weeks of returning, and who do not have another known diagnosis that would explain their illness. Providers are also asked to report patients who have been in close contact with another patient under investigation for this novel coronavirus.


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