China is experiencing an outbreak of a deadly coronavirus that has infected over 1,000 people and killed 56.
The strain of virus has been traced back to the central city Wuhan. The World Health Organization closed Hua Nan Seafood Wholesale Market in the province as it was thought to be linked to the infection, but some patient cases had no contact with the market. The market was also imported animals that were not fish, such as deer and rodents. Snakes were among the animals also found in the market and are suspected to have transmitted the virus.
The disease has since spread to nine provinces of mainland China, as well as Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea. Three cases have now been isolated in the United States. The first in Washington State, the second in Chicago and the third in Orange County California. The Chinese government is containing the situation at a difficult time, as it is high travel season with the Chinese New Year.
WHO had an emergency meeting Wednesday, January 26 to determine if this will constitute an epidemic. They will try to mitigate the outbreak as much as possible.
The coronavirus is being compared to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, known as MERS and SARS, respectively. Symptoms can range from those similar to the common cold to those resembling pneumonia.
The other viruses have been transmitted from animals to humans, but this virus can be transmitted between humans. As it is a respiratory infection, it can be transmitted through saliva, making coughing and kissing especially dangerous.
There isn’t much known about this strain yet, and a cure is yet to be found. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated they have a test to diagnose the virus, but it currently can only be administered at the CDC headquarters.
Both the Chinese government and the CDC are checking airline passengers’ temperatures. The CDC has placed a total of 100 workers at the three major ports of entry to the U.S.: New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding posted data on his Twitter that supports his claim that the virus could be a “thermonuclear pandemic” like the Spanish Influenza in 1918.
This is a developing story. Last updated January 26, 2020 at 1:18pm.