Health officials confirm 1st case of coronavirus in Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wis. (WITI) - Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services have confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the state.

The patient is in Madison at UW Hospital after being exposed while traveling to China within the past two weeks.

Health officials said the patient showed up at UW Hospital's ER with flu-like symptoms but was never admitted to the hospital. The patient was placed on "home isolation" per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, with tests continuing.

The patient tested positive Wednesday and placed in isolation.

As of Wednesday, there was one positive case in Wisconsin, seven negative cases, and two pending cases.

Below is a news release issued by DHS officials Wednesday:

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), UW Hospital and Clinics, the local health department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed the first case of 2019 novel coronavirus in Wisconsin. The case was confirmed at the CDC. The immediate health risk to the general public for contracting this virus is low.

The patient is an adult with a history of travel to Beijing, China prior to becoming ill and was exposed to known cases while in China. The individual is isolated at home, and is doing well. Out of respect for the privacy of the patient and their household, this is the only information that is available.

While the risk to the general public remains low, DHS, UW Hospital and Clinics, the local health department, and the CDC are working together to prevent disease transmission by evaluating close contacts of the patient and health care personnel who cared for the patient.

“DHS is operating with an abundance of caution and is working very closely with the local health department and UW Hospital and Clinics to ensure that this patient and any close contacts are closely monitored,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. “The risk of getting sick from 2019 novel coronavirus in Wisconsin is very low. We are responding aggressively to the situation and monitoring all developments. We are committed to keeping the public fully informed and will continue to provide updates as this situation unfolds.”

“UW Health has taken precautions, including ongoing staff training and recently expanding our travel history questions,” said UW Health Medical Director of Infection Control Dr. Nasia Safdar. “Since initial treatment at University Hospital, the patient has been self-quarantined at home. We are coordinating with the CDC, DHS, and local health authorities.”

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, which may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after someone is exposed to the virus. Symptoms have ranged from a mild illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization. We are encouraging travelers returning from China or contacts of patients with a confirmed case who become ill to let their health care providers know of their possible exposure before arriving at the health care facility.

The steps that all Wisconsin residents can take to help prevent the spread of this virus are the same as those used to protect against colds and flu: cover your coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently, and stay home when you’re sick. Influenza and other seasonal respiratory viruses are common in Wisconsin at this time of year.

According to the DHS website, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in people and animals.

Human coronaviruses are common throughout the world. Some human coronaviruses were identified many years ago and some have been identified recently. Human coronaviruses commonly cause mild to moderate illness in people worldwide.

Two newer human coronaviruses, MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, have been known to frequently cause severe illness.

An investigation is ongoing related to an outbreak of a new coronavirus, 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

These illnesses usually only last for a short amount of time. Symptoms may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

Click here for more information about coronavirus from the CDC.

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