News from the FDA/CDC

Washington state patient is first U.S. case of novel coronavirus



The first case of the novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, in the United States has been diagnosed in a traveler from China who came through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced today at a press briefing.

This transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image of a specimen extracted from a purified culture, revealed a number of coronavirus virions, each surrounded by its characteristic corona, or halo. CDC/John Hierholzer, MD

The outbreak began at a animal and meat market in China and now has spread to at least three other countries, including Thailand, Japan and South Korea. While originally thought to be spreading from animal to person, it appears that limited person-to-person transmission is occurring, although it is currently unknown how easily this virus spreads between people.

More than 300 cases have been reported and six deaths have occurred. Fourteen health care workers have been infected.

Scott Lindquist, MD, MPH, Washington state epidemiologist, said at the briefing that the patient, a man who had been in Wuhan, arrived at Sea-Tac on Jan. 15, 2 days before airport screening had been initiated. He was symptom free at the time of his arrival and probably would not have been identified as infected with 2019-nCoV. The patient had been aware of the public health and news media coverage of 2019-nCoV and, after developing symptoms, contacted his health care provider on Jan. 19. The patient did not fly directly from Wuhan, but Dr. Lindquist said that he has been fully cooperative and has been helpful to authorities in tracing his route and contacts. The man is being treated at Providence Regional Medical Center, Everett, Wash.

The CDC obtained a specimen from the patient immediately and identified the 2019-nCoV within 24 hours.

Screening at airports is part of a multipart strategy to address this type of infection that includes public health information dissemination, patient education, as well as hospital preparation and training exercises. Currently, a strategy referred to as “funneling” is being implemented wherein travelers from China are rerouted and reticketed to one of the five airports conducting screening. At present, JFK in New York, San Francisco International, Los Angeles International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport are conducting inbound traveler screening.

The CDC is working in close cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration to coordinate travel screenings and reroutings. In addition, the CDC is working with the World Health Organization and the international global health community to share information about this outbreak. The CDC also has staff on site in Wuhan and is communicating with local health authorities. The CDC has activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the 2019-nCoV response. Currently, the focus is on tracing contacts and the means of transmission of this virus.

Updates on the outbreak will be posted on the CDC coronavirus website.

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