La. Dept. of Health: No confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Louisiana

La. Dept. of Health: No confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Louisiana
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (Source: CDC)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Thus far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed five patients in the US that have been diagnosed with 2019 novel coronavirus (2019–nCoV), however, there are currently no confirmed cases in Louisiana.

The CDC goes on to say all of the patients in the US have traveled from China. Health officials in Louisiana and other states say they are taking preventative measures.

“The CDC believes the risk to the public at large remains low at this time and the department [Louisiana Department of Health] continues to monitor all information on novel coronavirus and remains ready should there be a need to respond to an outbreak of this illness or any other contagious illness. We regularly review and test our statewide emergency response plans,” said Dr. Alex Billioux assistant secretary for the Office of Public Health.

Healthcare providers in the state have been told to be on the lookout for patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to China. Physicians have also been given recommendations for the reporting, testing, and specimen collection should they have a patient with respiratory illness who recently traveled to Hubei Province, China.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with guidance from the CDC, we have expanded our recommendation for providers and healthcare facilities to contact the Louisiana Department of Health to report any individual who has traveled to China in the last 14 days and shows signs of upper or lower respiratory tract infection. As a result, we do expect that the number of persons under investigation will increase, but that does not necessarily mean that the risk to the public is increasing. Rather, it means we are being proactive and taking every precaution,” said Dr. Billioux.

“We are learning more about this virus each day, but it currently presents a low risk to the American public. The Louisiana Department of Health is taking appropriate measures to inform healthcare providers and establish a surveillance and response network ready to snap into action to diagnose, isolate, and quarantine as appropriate should this illness come to Louisiana,” Dr. Billioux said.

BACKGROUND ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

The CDC, as well as the Office of Public Health, has been proactively preparing for the introduction of this virus since it was first identified in China early in 2020. The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities first identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in more than 6,000* confirmed human infections in China and 15 other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

To date, there are 132 deaths attributed to the virus. Although there is a travel ban for all residents of Hubei Province, China, a number of countries, including the United States, are also actively screening incoming travelers who may still be traveling from China due to connecting flights or extended layovers.

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 recent outbreaks of MERS and SARS.

Many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China have reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread (possibly snakes). However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating that person-to-person spread is occurring.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus.

The best prevention is to avoid exposure to the virus. Everyday preventive actions include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

For additional information and links to guidance shared with Louisiana providers click here. The most up-to-date information about 2019 novel coronavirus can be found on the CDC’s website here.

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