A possible San Diego County case of the coronavirus that has killed more than 100 people is being investigated by health officials, with test results expected back later Tuesday.
If confirmed, it will be the first case in the county and just the sixth in the United States. Cases have already been confirmed in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
The potential San Diego patient recently traveled to impacted areas of China, according to the 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. No details about the patient have been released.
County spokesman Jose A. Alvarez said local health officials are expecting to receive test results late Tuesday afternoon or evening.
The person with the potential case of the respiratory illness is in isolation at home.
There have been more than 4,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus, most in China, and more than 100 deaths since Jan. 1.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County 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 added. “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 a 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 was urged to contact a medical professional before showing up to a doctor’s office to 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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