AUSTIN, Texas - A new coronavirus has now evolved into human-to-human transmission.
Originating in Wuhan City, China, the CDC confirmed its first U.S. case has been detected in Washington state Tuesday. A man in his 30s was returning from traveling in China.
“Everyone should care, anytime there's a new virus or new microbe, whatever that's going to be, we should have our radar up and see what's going on," Texas State University chair and professor of clinical laboratory science Dr. Rodney Rohde said. "Symptom-wise, it appears it's like other pneumonia-like illnesses. So respiratory types of situations. It can become complicated for immune-compromised type patients.”
Rohde says since this is developing, there isn't a certain source of the coronavirus.
“It's not like Ebola or tuberculosis or flu, things we are actually around all the time, so public health perspective is what we like to help with so the public doesn't panic,” Rohde said.
This month, federal health officials started screening passengers arriving from China at JFK, Los Angeles, and San Francisco airports.
On Tuesday the CDC expanded screenings to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Passengers will get questioned and have their temperatures taken.
“It's just something to keep in mind for perspective again. Influenza is blowing up around this country right now as well, same type of fatality rate and we're not testing everybody at airports," Rohde said. "This is just new so they're going to be careful with what this virus is until they've had that play out.”
Shortly after the CDC’s announcement Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said it's monitoring the situation closely and recommends anyone traveling to and from Wuhan stay informed and contact their health care provider to share their travel history if they experience symptoms.
Austin Public Health sent a statement:
"Austin Public Health (APH) is coordinating with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and prepare for any possible local cases of the Wuhan Coronavirus. Our Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit, which routinely monitors for nearly 80 communicable diseases, continues to be informed by the CDC with routine national briefings about this specific virus. APH has also distributed information to local healthcare providers regarding this evolving situation. The Wuhan Coronavirus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people."
In the meantime, Rohde says when traveling to be very cautious of hand-hygiene and wash your hands with soap and water, or rub them with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
“Being around people who seem sick - coughing, you may want to try and avoid those types of sick looking people. Right now we know we don't have a vaccine so prevention is key,” he said.