The state health department is encouraging local medical providers to screen for coronavirus.
Health officials are coordinating with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to closely monitor the outbreak in China, the Georgia Department of Public Health said Friday in a news release.
Though no cases have been identified in Georgia, the “situation could change,” the release states. There are hundreds of confirmed cases and at least 25 reported deaths.
Healthcare providers statewide should watch for patients who have traveled from Wuhan, China, and present with fever and respiratory symptoms.
To detect possible cases of coronavirus infection early and prevent further spread, the United States began actively screening incoming travelers from Wuhan at five select airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
State health officials are prepared to transport, evaluate and test potential coronavirus patients, and will work with the airport quarantine station to facilitate and coordinate referrals.
The first known cases in December 2019 were traced to an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan and are believed to have come from contact with live animals that were infected.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats. A growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to the animal markets and many healthcare workers have become infected, indicating person to person spread is occurring.
Because this is a novel coronavirus, we do not know everything about it yet, DPH said. Based on patients with confirmed coronavirus, symptoms include fever and signs of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); case-patients also develop pneumonia. The CDC says symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure. There is currently no specific antiviral treatment for 2019-nCoV infection or vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection.
Currently, there are two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States (Illinois and Washington) and more cases are expected. The CDC says the overall risk of coronavirus to the general public is low, but the best way to prevent infection of any respiratory virus is:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.