The CDC is currently monitoring 63 other possible infections
U.S. health officials have confirmed the second case of coronavirus in the U.S. — a Chicago woman who recently returned from China was diagnosed with the infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is also currently monitoring 63 other potential cases in the U.S.
The World Health Organization says they needed more data before declaring a global emergency, but the virus is now spreading through close human contact and in hospital settings. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually infect animals but can sometimes evolve and spread to humans, which is what’s happening now. Symptoms in humans include fever, coughing and shortness of breath, which can progress to pneumonia.
Earlier this week, the CDC confirmed the first case in the U.S. — a Washington state man who has been quarantined in a hospital outside of Seattle after flying back from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak was first reported. The CDC said the man reached out to local health authorities last week once he started experiencing pneumonia-like symptoms.
The new patient, a woman in her 60s, is in stable condition and her health is improving. She remains isolated in a hospital as a precaution, U.S. health officials said. She traveled to China in late December and began experiencing symptoms as soon as she returned to the U.S. last week, according to the CDC.
The other cases being monitored in the U.S. stretch across 22 states, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, tells NBC News. She says the CDC is working to hard to try and contain the virus.
“We’re really working to understand the full spectrum of the illness with this coronavirus,” Messonnier says. “The problem with this time of year is it’s cold and flu season and there are lots of cold and respiratory infections circulating.”
Travel bans were put in place in central China, where the virus was first detected, which have effectively placed more than 35 million citizens on lockdown. Authorities around China, including in the capital, Beijing, have canceled large public gatherings where the airborne virus could spread. Currently, there are more than 830 confirmed cases of infection, and at least 26 people have died. A total of 8,420 people are reported to be under observation.
“CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation is evolving rapidly,” Messonnier said, adding that there is likely to be more cases in coming days. “We have our best people working on this problem.”