FRIDAY, January 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Travelers from China will now have to undergo improved screening at three major US airports. UU. To detect symptoms of a new coronavirus that has caused an outbreak of pneumonia in China, federal health officials said Friday.
The three airports, San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), receive the majority of travelers from central China, authorities said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the USA. UU. They are deploying around 100 health workers to complement the existing staff at the quarantine stations of the CDC located at those airports, the agency said.
The new coronavirus is genetically similar to MERS and SARS, two other coronaviruses that caused global outbreaks, said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.
Messonnier provided a somewhat confusing message about the danger posed by the new virus at a CDC press conference on Friday.
She said that, as things stand, "we believe that the current risk of this virus to the general public is low."
He noted that "for families sitting around the table tonight, this is not something they should worry about."
But he added that it is very likely that the United States will see at least one case of the virus reaching its shores.
"As we begin to prove more, and many countries stand up for diagnostic tests, I hope we will see more cases and I think it is very possible that there will be at least one case in the United States," said Messonnier. "That's why we move so fast with this test."
China has reported 45 cases to date, including four reported just a couple of hours before Friday's briefing, Messonnier said. There have been two deaths among elderly patients, including one with a history of disease.
Just this week, there were also three cases reported outside of China, two in Thailand and one in Japan, Messonnier said. All were in Wuhan travelers.
Coronaviruses generally infect animals, but they can evolve and jump to people, and then spread from person to person.
"According to reports, most of the patients in the outbreak have had some link with a large market for shellfish and live animals, suggesting a spread from animal to human," said Messonnier. "The market closed earlier this month for disinfection and cleaning."
Emerging viruses are worrisome because humans have no immunity and there are no therapies or vaccines available to treat them, he said.
"In general, it doesn't take much virus to go from being worrying to being extremely worrying, because they tend to transform and mutate a lot," said Messonnier. "That is why with this kind of virus we are especially concerned and we are adopting a cautious proactive approach."
Dr. Daniel Lucey is a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. In a statement, he noted that "unlike the epidemics of SARS and MERS coronavirus pneumonia, this outbreak of the third novel coronavirus pneumonia (& # 39; CP-3 & # 39;) was discovered very quickly."
"Now you have to identify the animal source, the incubator and the degree of spread from person to person," Lucey said. "Is the virus out of the market and is it spreading in Wuhan?"
He believes that work should begin soon to help research and "to implement clinical treatment studies, something we couldn't do for SARS."
New York and San Francisco are the only airports that receive direct flights from Wuhan, a major transportation hub about 700 miles south of Beijing with a population of over 11 million, said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine of the CDC. .
The first flight to be examined in full will arrive at JFK in New York around 10 p.m. Friday night, Cetron said.
Los Angeles was included in the enhanced detection initiative because it receives a large number of passengers arriving from Wuhan through indirect flights, Cetron explained.
Chinese health officials have shared the genetic profile of the virus with other nations around the world, Messonnier said. The CDC can identify the pathogen using this profile and are developing a diagnostic test to be delivered to US health departments. UU.
Most Wuhan passengers will receive cards detailing the symptoms of the virus and what to do if they get sick, Cetron said. Those with suspicious symptoms will be retained for a more detailed examination and probably will not take an immediate connection flight.