SALT LAKE CITY – The World Health Organization has declared the Coronavirus outbreak a ‘global public health emergency’ – Doctors stress the risk is low for Utahns, but how do you know if you have been exposed to the virus, or if you just have the flu?
Shortness of breath, coughing, fever. You may hear these symptoms and think it’s the flu.
However, these are the same symptoms associated with Coronavirus, a mysterious new illness from China that has spread quickly, infected more than 1,700 and killed nearly 200 people in that country.
“It first started from animal-to-human transmission and then the virus was able to mutate, so it was able to spread from person-to-person, so this is a new virus that we haven’t seen before,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, a Utah Epidemiologist.
The viruses are similar in the fact that they exhibit the same symptoms, in fact this new strain of Coronavirus is part of a family of viruses commonly associated with the common cold.
But, unlike influenza, there’s no vaccine.
“We don’t have treatment and it is spread through airborne droplets,” Dunn said.
So, how do you know if you have Coronavirus or the flu?
Doctors say, first check your symptoms – fever, cough, shortness of breath. Then, ask yourself – have you recently traveled to China? Have you been in contact with someone who has recently traveled to China?
If the answer is no, it’s probably not Coronavirus.
“The identification of novel Coronavirus is a health threat,” Dunn said. “However, the risk to Utahns right now is very low and the Department of Health is doing everything we can to make sure it remains a low risk to Utahns.”
Doctors say you can do your part to stop all viruses from spreading, including Coronavirus and Influenza, by staying home if you are sick, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a kleenex, and most importantly, washing your hands regularly.
“Those basic precautionary measures will keep us safe from spreading the disease,” Dunn said.
The Utah Department of Health has set up a ‘Coronavirus’ page on their website, which they will keep updated with developments and outbreak numbers.