The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported the first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the US state of Washington following the return of a patient from China who tested positive to the virus.
The patient had travelled from Wuhan to Washington. The novel coronavirus infection is believed to have originated at a seafood wholesale market in the Chinese city in Hubei Province causing an outbreak of pneumonia.
According to the CDC, the patient was treated for illness at a medical facility in Washington state and based on the travel history and symptoms, was tested for the suspected virus.
CDC said that laboratory testing of a clinical specimen from the patient confirmed the diagnosis of novel coronavirus through the agency’s Real time Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) test.
Originally, the Wuhan coronavirus was assumed to be spreading from animal-to-person with initial reports suggesting that several patients in the Chinese city had a connection with a large seafood and animal market.
However, there are increasing indications that limited person-to-person spread of the disease is taking place, said CDC. The basis for the new belief is that an increasing number of novel coronavirus cases reportedly did not have a link to animal markets.
The CDC stated: “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others circulating among animals including camels, cats and bats.
“Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people and then spread between people, such as has been seen with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
“When person-to-person spread has occurred with SARS and MERS, it is thought to happen via respiratory droplets with close contacts, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.
“The situation with regard to 2019-nCoV is still unclear.”
In China, so far there have been nearly 300 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection among humans with the life-threatening virus already causing several deaths.
Cases of novel coronavirus have also been confirmed in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea.
Going forward, access to the full genetic sequence of Wuhan coronavirus will help identify infections with the virus, said the CDC.