A possible San Diego County case of the coronavirus that originated in central China is being investigated by local health officials, with test results expected back early Wednesday.
If confirmed, it would be the first case in the county and the sixth in the United States. Two of those cases were confirmed in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The potential San Diego patient recently traveled to impacted areas of China, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. The patient went to a hospital, where a specimen was collected and sent to the county Public Health Lab for packaging and then to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing, according to county spokesman Jose A. Alvarez.
Local health officials expect to receive test results early Wednesday morning, he said, adding that the person with the potential case of the respiratory illness is in isolation at home. No details about the patient were released.
The coronavirus outbreak was first noted in December in the industrial city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of central China. Since then, more than 5,975 cases have been reported in China, with at least 132 deaths, and the virus has been confirmed in patients in a handful of other countries including the U.S.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, said the county has protocols in place to deal with infectious disease.
“The risk of infection for the general public is minimal,” Wooten said. “If you have not traveled to an area where the virus has been detected or had close contact with a patient who tested positive for this type of coronavirus, the risk of infection is very low.”
According to the CDC, the symptoms of coronavirus are fever, cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. The incubation period is hard to pin down, with health officials saying symptoms can show up in infected individuals in a few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure.
Anyone who traveled to an impacted area and starts to develop symptoms is urged to contact a medical professional before showing up to a doctor’s office so necessary precautions can be taken.
Wooten said people should avoid traveling to the impacted areas unless absolutely necessary.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses usually seen in other mammals. Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, are other types of coronaviruses.
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