For Release: January 24, 2020 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications (405) 271-5601
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is actively monitoring the outbreak of a 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, China and has resulted in cases detected in several countries, including two laboratory-confirmed cases in the United States.
Public health officials at the OSDH remain in contact with local, state and federal partners including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as they monitor the rapidly evolving situation. Both confirmed cases are individuals who travelled to Wuhan, China and returned to the United States. The CDC advises the public to avoid all non-essential travel to the area; and recommends people traveling to China practice health precautions like avoiding contact with people who are sick and practicing good hand hygiene.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some can cause respiratory illness in people. Many patients in the current outbreak were initially linked to a large seafood and live animal market in Wuhan, China, but the recent patient did not report exposure to the animal market, which suggests person-to-person spread is occurring. Transmission is likely occurring via respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing around close contacts. Common symptoms of illness will include fever, cough and shortness of breath. The primary factor of concern is travel history to the affected area or being in close contact with a laboratory-confirmed patient or close contact with someone who is under investigation for the virus while that person was ill.
Anyone who may have travelled to Wuhan, China, and is experiencing symptoms, should report their symptoms to a health care provider before seeking treatment so that proper evaluation and infection control measures can be put in place. In the event of a suspected case in Oklahoma, public health officials will work collectively with county health departments, health care providers and hospitals to arrange for testing with the CDC.
“We want to assure the public that this is something we are monitoring and are prepared to respond,” said OSDH State Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed. “This is a rapidly evolving situation that we continue to follow and provide updates to our healthcare provider partners as circumstances warrant.”
Healthcare providers are urged to obtain a detailed travel history for patients being evaluated with fever and symptoms of acute respiratory illness such as cough and shortness of breath. As of Jan. 24, the CDC reported 63 persons under investigation in 22 states. Of those reports, two are confirmed positive, 11 were negative and the remaining cases are pending testing. There is no vaccine or specific treatment. Those with the virus are being offered supportive care.