MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin resident has been sickened with a new virus that originated in China and spread across the world, the first case in the state and the 12th in the U.S., health officials said Wednesday.
The adult patient has been isolated at home but state health officials would not say where, or provide details such as the patient’s age. More information about their location will be coming later from the local health department, said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer in Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services Bureau of Communicable Disease.
The person came to the University of Wisconsin Hospital emergency room in Madison to have their symptoms evaluated, said Dr. Nasia Safdar, director of infection control at UW Health. The patient was tested for the coronavirus because they had traveled to China within two weeks, she said. Health officials would not say when the person came to the hospital, but the positive test results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came back on Wednesday morning.
Health officials said those who came into direct contact with the infected person are also being evaluated. The patient, who has a history of traveling to China, is doing well at home, they said.
“The risk to Wisconsin residents in general is extremely low,” Westergaard said.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. They range from having a mild illness, like the common cold, to severe pneumonia requiring hospitalization. Health officials believe it can take up to two weeks for someone who is infected to show symptoms.
The outbreak of the new type of coronavirus has infected more than 24,500 people globally, with all but a couple of hundred of those in China. There have been 490 deaths in China but none in the U.S. Other cases of the pneumonia-like virus include six in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona and two in Chicago.
The virus is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that caused outbreaks in the past.
Governments have rushed to get their citizens out of China, which is orchestrating history’s largest anti-viral campaign by blocking 50 million people from leaving Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, and nearby areas. A growing number of Chinese cities are discouraging people from even leaving their apartments.