UC Davis Health System

01/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/24/2020 19:47

Wuhan coronavirus: What U.S. residents need to know

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(SACRAMENTO) - In China, travel has been restricted for millions during Chinese New Year, the country's biggest holiday. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is closely monitoring the spread of the respiratory illness caused by the new, or novel, coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, China. The threat of the Wuhan coronavirus appears to be growing, with a second case confirmed in the U.S. today.

Dean Blumberg is chief of pediatric infectious diseases and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UC Davis Children's Hospital.

In the video above, he explains why experts are so concerned about the new coronavirus, and why masks aren't always recommended.

What is so concerning about this novel coronavirus, Wuhan coronavirus?

This is a new, or novel, coronavirus, which means people haven't been exposed to it before. That's why it's so concerning: pretty much everybody in the world is susceptible. There are some patients who are being monitored for it, but we don't know if there's going to be widespread transmission in the U.S. If there's appropriate case detection and isolation, it is possible there might not be that much transmission in the U.S. and it might stay confined to other parts of the world.

How is the coronavirus different from the common cold?

We know other coronaviruses cause the common cold, which is just a few days or cough, fever, runny nose and sneezing. This virus is new. What we're finding is that 25 percent of cases can be quite severe. There have been some deaths due to it, whereas hardly anybody dies from the common cold. Most of the deaths have occurred in elderly men with underlying medical disorders like heart disease or diabetes.

Should I wear a mask?

You don't have to wear a mask. It does decrease risk from all respiratory infections, but it's uncomfortable and you really have to wear it all the time for it to make a difference - not just at the grocery store, airport, or on a bus or something. You have to virtually wear it all the time, so I'm not recommending wearing a mask.

What should I do if I have cold symptoms?

If somebody has regular cold symptoms - fever, cough, runny nose - and they haven't been exposed to anybody at risk for the novel coronavirus, it's almost certainly just a cold. If you've been to one of the areas where we know transmission has been occurring, like Wuhan or that region of central China or been exposed to someone who recently travelled to a place where we know there's been a confirmed case, you'll want to talk to your health care provider about getting tested to see what it is.