Oklahoma State Health Department to test two people for coronavirus
The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed it is working on coordinating testing for two individuals that meet the criteria for persons under investigation with the coronavirus.
The Health Department said it is important to note that a person under investigation is not a case of the new coronavirus strain that has been spreading in China, but that the person has a travel history, exposure history and symptoms related to the disease.
No names or demographics for the two people under investigation were released.
“We have a process in place for infectious diseases and that includes emerging or novel infections like this,” said State Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed. “We outline a patient’s specific history including travel and who they have come in contact with during the time frame of concern.”
Symptoms for the disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue and in the five confirmed cases in the U.S., travel to Wuhan, China, the disease epicenter.
Although five cases have been identified to date, of 110 persons under investigation in 26 states, laboratory testing was negative for 32 individuals. Testing is pending for the remaining 73.
Officials with the state Health Department emphasized that even if a case of coronavirus was discovered in an Oklahoma resident, the risk to the general public is low. Public health officials identify possible contacts to a person under investigation and notify them to assess their exposure risk. They will stay in contact with those people for 14 days, the length of the disease incubation, to monitor their health.
“We are very early in terms of this outbreak right now,” Burnsed said. “Our counterparts in China have been aggressive in implementing travel restrictions and limiting the exposure to Wuhan. If that area of concern expands to other parts of China, then that will be alerted to U.S.”
The fifth case of novel coronavirus in the United States was confirmed in Arizona on Sunday.
The disease has infected at least 2,800 people in China and killed at least 82 so far.
Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.
Prevention for the disease includes washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Health care professionals urge anyone who has recently traveled to Wuhan — or who has been in contact with someone who has — to seek medical care quickly if they have any respiratory or flu-like symptoms.