A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Wuhan coronavirus outbreak: What you should know


The coronavirus outbreak has sickened scores of people across the world, including in the U.S. Learn more about the illness and how you can stay safe.

An outbreak of a respiratory illness that originated in China that has sickened scores of people across the world, has now been confirmed in the U.S. and the number of sickened patients in the U.S. is anticipated to rise.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, called 2019-nCov.

The latest situation summary updates are available on CDC’s web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses commonly found in animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats. On rare occasions, such as the MERS and SARS outbreaks, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.

What does this mean for you and your family?

The first case in the United States was announced Jan. 21. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. There have been five cases in total of this virus reported in the U.S. as of Jan. 27, according to the CDC.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms and has been to Wuhan, or has been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have had the virus should seek medical care if they are ill.


Patients with confirmed 2019-nCoV infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure.

How to protect yourself

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 undercooked 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.

“Much like other illnesses we see during this time of year, practicing good hygiene is essential,” said Kate Maguire, Marshfield Clinic Health System Director of Infection Prevention. “If you don’t feel well, stay home from work or school. If conditions persist, or you’ve just returned from the Wuhan or been in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have the virus, contact your physician.”


Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

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