Health Editor’s Note: Again, a traveler who was asymptomatic when traveling from China to the U.S……Carol
By Molly Walker/Associate Editor/MedPage Today
A second travel-associated case of the novel coronavirus first seen in Wuhan, China, has been confirmed in the U.S., officials said on Friday.
Identified as a Chicago woman in her 60s, she was asymptomatic when she returned home from China on Jan. 13, 2020, after being in China since late December 2019, Illinois health officials said on a phone call with reporters. She started to “feel unwell” a few days after returning home and contacted her health provider, who quickly recognized the potential and sent her to an appropriately equipped hospital. The CDC confirmed that the woman tested positive for novel coronavirus.
They said that the woman did not take any public transportation, attend any large gatherings, or have close contact with anyone outside of her home since returning from China. Illinois officials added that the woman’s close contacts are currently being monitored.
CDC officials also confirmed that “no illness” has been confirmed among contacts of the Washington state man who was the first travel-associated U.S. case of novel coronavirus.
On the conference call, reporters asked about data published in The Lancet on Friday, which suggested similar symptoms between this novel coronavirus and SARS, based on preliminary clinical data from the first 41 patients. But CDC officials said it is “too early” to make any real comparison between the novel coronavirus to SARS.
The Lancet data also suggested that the virus could spread person-to-person, but World Health Organization officials were careful to state on Thursday that there was “no evidence” it had occurred outside China.
Currently, CDC officials said 63 patients are under investigation in 22 U.S. states — two of whom have tested positive, and 11 with negative results so far. They said that, according to the information they have now, the infection has an incubation period of around 2 weeks, though investigators said they are still working to understand the full spectrum of illness among infected patients.
“We are expecting more cases in the U.S. and likely to see cases in close contacts of travelers and human-to-human transmission,” Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on the press call. Officials stressed the importance of early identification of suspected infections.
Beginning next week, Messonnier said, CDC will report cases of novel coronavirus on its website (similar to what the agency has done for the vaping-related lung injury outbreak). She reiterated that the agency already has issued a Level 3 travel advisory, recommending that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to China’s Wuhan area.
CDC emphasized that travelers returning from outbreak areas who are symptomatic, including fever, cough, or respiratory symptoms, should contact their healthcare provider. Travelers should also monitor for symptoms for 14 days after returning.