What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate 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 Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014 and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, and now with 2019-nCoV.
What is the novel coronavirus?
2019-nCoV is part of a large family of coronaviruses, some of which cause illness in people and others that circulate among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people. This happened with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2014, and now 2019-nCoV. These viruses may cause mild to severe respiratory illnesses with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
How is Ohio tracking 2019-nCoV?
Ohio’s public health system includes a team of state experts, local health departments, and local partners that perform daily monitoring of reportable diseases, including 2019-nCoV. ODH is closely monitoring the 2019-nCoV situation in lockstep with the Centers for Disease Control and is ready to respond if a case is reported in Ohio.
What happens if a case is reported?
- A case or suspected case of 2019-nCoV is reported to a local health department.
- ODH reports to the CDC and, if indicated, patient specimens will be collected and shipped.
- Currently, testing for this virus must take place at CDC.
- ODH will work with local, state, and federal partners to investigate reports of 2019-nCoV in order to identify cases and prevent the spread of infection.
What can you do to limit risk?
If you suspect you may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV because you have traveled to China or have been around people who may have been exposed and/or are exhibiting symptoms, contact your health care provider and let them know you may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV before visiting the health care facility. This will help the health care provider’s office take precautionary steps to keep other people from being exposed.
Just as with influenza and other illnesses, it’s critical to protect yourself. Experts at the Ohio Department of Health recommend these tips:
- The most effective means of protection is the same as those things that prevent other illness such as flu.
- Practice good hand hygiene.
- Follow appropriate cough and sneeze etiquette.
- Don’t go to work or class when you feel ill. Stay home and rest.
- Avoid exposure to others who are sick.
When did the first case of 2019-nCoV occur in the United States?
- The first U.S. case was announced January 21, 2020 in Washington State. There are ongoing investigations by the CDC to learn more. There are currently no known cases in Ohio. ODH is providing guidance to state and local health agencies and health care providers.
- Amy Acton, MD, MPH, director of ODH, declared novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), a Class A reportable infectious disease on January 23, 2020.
- Classifying a disease as Class A means that confirmed or suspected cases of nCoV must be reported immediately to the local health district where the person lives (or the local health district where the person is being evaluated if the person’s residence is unknown or not in Ohio). Required reporters include physicians providing care, administrators in charge of hospitals, clinics or other institutions providing care or treatment, laboratory administrators, or any individual having knowledge of a person with nCoV.
If you traveled to affected areas outside the United States where 2019-nCoV outbreaks have been identified (e.g. Wuhan, China) and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:
- Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Not travel while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
What is public health doing to protect Ohioans?
- Ohio’s public health system includes a team of local and state partners who perform daily monitoring of reportable diseases, including 2019-nCoV (educating about what public health does).
- ODH is monitoring this situation, in lockstep with the CDC, and will be ready to respond if a case should be reported in Ohio.
- CDC considers U.S. risk low at this time.
Should I cancel a public event I've helped to organize on campus, or should I avoid attending such events?
Lorain County Public Health states, “There is no need to change any routine activities or behaviors at this time.”
Below are links to trusted sites where you can find additional information:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- World Health Organization
- Ohio Department of Health
- Lorain County Public Health