When and where did this outbreak start?
The outbreak that has been described in recent reports started approximately in late December with a reported cluster of 27 viral pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. According to initial reports, seven patients were critically ill with the initial infection. Wuhan is the seventh largest city in China, located in Hubei Province in a landlocked portion of southeastern China (see figure).
What do we know about the virus that is causing this outbreak?
This outbreak has been linked to a novel betacoronavirus (a single-stranded, enveloped RNA virus) currently named 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The virus has been isolated from patients with both mild and severe infections.
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
Why is this considered a novel virus?
A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was only recently identified from patient samples and genetically sequenced by experts in the field.
Where did the virus come from?
From all available data, the virus appears to be linked to a seafood market in Wuhan that also sells other animals for consumption. Most coronavirus experts believe that the virus was transmitted from an animal in this market, but Chinese authorities have not been able to identify the specific source of the infection. Ongoing investigations into the market and animals available for sale there are currently underway.
Is the virus spread from person-to-person?
Epidemiologic data has demonstrated evidence consistent with person-to-person transmission. Evidence is emerging that employees who worked at a hospital caring for patients with 2019-nCoV have developed the infection. Other patients who traveled to Wuhan but not to the epicenter of transmission (the seafood market) have also developed infection. Together these suggest not only person-to-person transmission, but ongoing community spread in Wuhan.
How does the virus spread?
Patterns of transmission are expected to be similar to other coronaviruses (coughing, sneezing, and by touching contaminated surfaces). It is thought that the virus can be transmitted by close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household, workplace or health care center.
Where has the virus been found to date?
The initial cases have been described in Wuhan, China; however, other cities in China are beginning to report cases (including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, among others). In addition, cases have been reported in Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Japan and most recently in the U.S.
What is currently being done to prevent 2019-nCoV from entering the US?
The CDC has set up primary screening at major airports around the country that receive direct flights from China (San Francisco, New York City [JFK], and Los Angeles [LAX]). Additional airport screening locations are being added to these three, with a plan to route those returning from Wuhan to targeted airports equipped to screen patients. Additionally, the CDC is enhancing education and raising awareness of this new virus among healthcare workers, public health experts and patients.
What are common symptoms of 2019-nCoV?
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, fatigue, cough (usually dry), shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Does the 2019-nCoV present differently in cancer and other immunosuppressed patients?
Currently we do not know this information and can only speculate. However, if 2019-nCoV is like other coronaviruses (and other respiratory viral pathogens), high-risk immunosuppressed patients may show fewer symptoms with their initial presentation (e.g. absence of fever). In addition, these patients may progress rapidly to more severe pneumonia, but data on outcomes in cancer/transplant patients remains unknown.
What treatments are available for patients with 2019-nCoV infection?
There are no currently approved treatments for patients with coronavirus infections, other than management of symptoms and respiratory support (using a ventilator) if needed.
Is there a vaccine that can prevent infection?
There is no vaccine for 2019-nCoV currently available.
Where can I get additional updated information about 2019—nCoV?