LAFAYETTE, La. — Concern is growing after the confirmed number of patients with Wuhan Coronavirus doubled overnight in China. The number of people infected is now just below 4,600 with 106 deaths from the illness. There have only been five confirmed cases here in the United States, 73 suspected cases are still awaiting testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The good news for the U.S. is that five current cases were all people who traveled to China. None of the cases were transmitted from another person here in the states. Louisiana has fared well so far with no current or suspected cases. Joan Stokes, the Vice President of Quality and Clinical Risk Management at Lafayette General Health, is also a microbiologist and she says while Wuhan Coronavirus is very serious, the chance of a widespread outbreak in Acadiana is low. "It's important to take a step back and realize that the only five confirmed cases in the United States came from people who traveled to this area [China]", she said.
State officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and the Office of Public Health are monitoring the situation closely. "This is a rapidly evolving situation, you know we're learning new information daily about this particular virus but as of now there are no cases in Louisiana", said Regional OPH Director Dr. Tina Stefanski.
WHO’s standard recommendations for the general public to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses are as follows, which include hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or under-cooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.