Jan. 24, 2020 — A second travel-related case of a new strain of coronavirus in the U.S. has been confirmed in a Chicago resident.
The patient is a woman in her 60s. She had symptoms a few days after returning to the U.S. from a trip to Wuhan, China, on Jan. 13. She was not sick while traveling.
Health officials say she is doing well and is in stable condition. She remains in the hospital mostly to prevent the spread of the infection to others, they say.
Allison Arwady, MD, chief medical officer at the Chicago Department of Public Health, says the woman had limited movement outside her home before she got sick. She had not taken public transportation or attended any large gatherings, for example, so it’s unlikely she passed the infection to others before getting care.
“Our concern for transmission before symptoms developed is low,” she says.
In total, the CDC has investigated 63 patients in the U.S. for possible infection with the new strain of coronavirus from 22 states. Of those, two have been confirmed to have the disease, and 11 have been ruled out. In the other cases, samples of blood and respiratory samples are on their way to the CDC for testing or are being tested.
The first travel-related case in the U.S. is a man in his 30s who is hospitalized in Everett, WA. He is in isolation in satisfactory condition. Health officials there are monitoring more than 40 people he was in close contact with before he became sick. So far, no other infections have been found among those contacts.
The CDC says that at the five airports where incoming flights are being monitored, roughly 2,000 travelers from 200 flights have been screened. So far, no cases have been detected at airports.
Health officials say that may have something to do with the long lag between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms, which is called the incubation period.
Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says the incubation period for the new virus may be as long as 2 weeks.
“That’s not surprising, given the kind of virus that this is,” she says.
People may fly before there are any signs they are sick.
The CDC is asking Americans to limit all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China. They’re also asking Americans who travel to other parts of China to try to avoid contact with sick people and to practice good hand hygiene.
Health officials also stressed that while they continue to be alert for new cases of the coronavirus, which is called 2019-nCoV, they believe the risk to the U.S. is low.
In addition to the new case in the U.S., researchers in China released their first analysis of 41 coronavirus patients who were admitted to the hospital in Wuhan. Among those early and serious cases, nearly all — 98% — had a fever. Roughly three-quarters of patients also had a cough. About half had fatigue and shortness of breath.
One feature that stands out among these patients, the study authors say, was a lack of upper respiratory symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, or sore throat.
The report is published in The Lancet.