The United States has its first confirmed case of a new virus that appeared in Wuhan, China, last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday. The virus has already sickened hundreds and killed six people in Asia.
The male patient is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. He is a resident of Snohomish County in Washington.
The man traveled from Wuhan to Washington but said he did not attend the animal markets where many of the patients were infected.
Officials are compiling a list of people the patient may have had contact with since his return to the United States. The Wuhan virus can spread person to person, but not nearly as easily as viruses such as measles or influenza.
The CDC is not identifying the patient.
The CDC also announced on Tuesday that it will start screening passengers flying directly or indirectly from Wuhan to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
On January 17, the CDC began screening passengers arriving from Wuhan to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, followed by Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
Travel precaution level increases
The CDC has raised its travel notice for Wuhan, China, from level 1 to level 2, of three possible levels, according to its website.
On Tuesday morning, the CDC advised travelers to “practice usual precautions,” which is part of its “Watch – Level 1” status. As of Tuesday afternoon, the agency advised travelers to “practice enhanced precautions” and increased the status to “Alert – Level 2.” The highest level, “Warning – Level 3” advises travelers to “avoid nonessential travel.”
The agency now recommends that travelers to Wuhan avoid contact with sick people, dead or living animals, and animal markets. It adds that “preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease from this virus.”
“This novel coronavirus has the potential to cause severe disease and death,” the CDC says.