Missouri DHSS monitors novel coronavirus

Posted 1/23/20

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – On Jan. 17, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) distributed a health update to health care providers and partners regarding an outbreak of a 2019 …

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Missouri DHSS monitors novel coronavirus

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO – On Jan. 17, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) distributed a health update to health care providers and partners regarding an outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China that began in December 2019. On Jan. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first case in the United States in the state of Washington. The patient had recently returned to Washington from Wuhan.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in Missouri. As the CDC expects more cases to be identified in the coming days, Missouri health care providers and public health practitioners are being asked to contact DHSS or their local public health agency to immediately report any patients who meet thecriteria for evaluation for this illness. This is a rapidly evolving situation.  

While animal-to-human transmission might have resulted in the early cases in China, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.

“While this public health situation is worrisome, we are encouraged by the proactive measures taken by the CDC,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “The CDC tells us that the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public continues to be low at this time. We want to make sure Missourians--patients and doctors--are aware of this issue to avoid any local transmission of the virus.” 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating 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 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). When person-to-person spread has occurred with SARS and MERS, it is thought to happen via respiratory droplets with close contacts, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. The situation with regard to 2019-nCoV is still unclear. While severe illness, including illness resulting in several deaths, has been reported in China, other patients have had milder illness and been discharged. Symptoms associated with this virus have included fever, cough and trouble breathing.  The confirmation that some limited person-to-person spread with this virus is occurring in Asia raises the level of concern about this virus, but CDC continues to believe the risk of 2019-nCoV to the American public at large remains low at this time.

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