The bizarre new virus strain that popped up in China weeks ago has now made its way to the United States. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced that the first confirmed case of the viral infection has been documented in the states, though it’s not likely to be the last.
The virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, and the individual who fell ill in the US had just returned from that very region on January 15th. Where the individual came into contact with the virus remains unknown.
“The patient sought care at a medical facility in the state of Washington, where the patient was treated for the illness,” the CDC explains. “Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected this new coronavirus. A clinical specimen was collected and sent to CDC overnight, where laboratory testing yesterday confirmed the diagnosis.”
The CDC and health officials across the United States have been preparing for this day for some time. The newly-identified virus began in a small group of people near a seafood market in Wuhan, but gradually began to spread. At first, it was believed that the virus couldn’t jump from person-to-person, but that has since been proven false.
In the CDC’s bulletin, the agency lays out a plan for ensuring that anyone who has the virus is detected as they enter the country. That includes health screenings at airports that accept flights from areas in China where the virus has been found.
Thus far, several hundred people have been confirmed to have the virus, and a handful of them have died. Right now, the focus of the CDC is monitoring the situation in Washington to ensure that the virus is not spreading there.