By CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – Lots of illnesses going around right now, ranging from simple colds to mores serious disease such as influenza and pneumonia.

So, with all of the news about Coronavirus out there, a number of sick folks are coming in wondering whether it’s possible they could have this new, potentially deadly virus.


(credit: CBS)

Odds are no, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t have coronavirus on their radar. More about that in a second.

Where do we stand right now?

*As of Monday evening, the 27th, the fifth confirmed case of coronavirus being identified in the Unites States, up from two just three days to go. Expect that number to continue to rise.


(credit: CBS)

*Also, 110 people across the country are being monitored across the country after possible exposure. Off those 110, 32 have tested negative for the virus as others still await test results. That includes three suspected cases in Colorado (two are among the 32 who have tested negative, the other is awaiting test results).

*Worldwide, mainly in China, cases number more than 4000, with at least 106 deaths. It’s thought the actual numbers are much higher. Plus, 16 countries or territories have positive confirmed cases.

So what are the criteria for suspecting Coronavirus in someone who is ill with flu-like symptoms? At this point, it’s pretty straightforward.:

In someone who develops flu like symptoms, including things such as fever, aches, and cough, the screening question are essentially:

In the two weeks prior to getting sick, did you travel to/from Wuhan? (Actually travel to or from anywhere in China would raise a red flag.) or…

Did you have direct contact with anyone who is actively being investigated for Coronavirus? “Direct” defined as six feet or closer.

If this is the case, health officials say don’t just show up at the ER or a clinic, but phone ahead so preparations could be made. That would mean not having you sit around in the waiting room, but straight into an isolated area with a mask and other protective measures.

Then, if screening raises suspicion, testing of blood and respiratory samples would be done and sent to the CDC in Atlanta.

The testing can take up to five days, and is only available at the CDC. It’s hoped testing materials can be distributed to all states for local use within the next 3-6 weeks.

*Here’s something new, and a big worry. That is, an infected person may be contagious before showing signs of illness. In Canada, with two newly confirmed cases, some officials are calling for anyone who has recently traveled to Wuhan to “self isolate”.

*In the U.S., returnees from Wuhan are being asked to call their physicians no matter how they feel, avoid contact with sick, elderly, or those with weak immune systems, as well as practicing strict hygiene at all times, whether ill or not.

*Finally, although the current number of American airports performing screening for Coronavirus number five, expect the CDC to increase that number this week.

The most important takeaway: there is still no public health emergency, but this situation is changing for the worse each day.

Dr. Dave Hnida

  1. “Do You Have Coronavirus, Or The Flu?” — irresponsible BS! Unless you came here from Wuhan within the past three weeks, it’s vanishingly unlikely that you have the new coronavirus.

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