(CNN) — There are at least five confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the US, a number the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts will continue to climb.
The novel coronavirus, which has sickened thousands and killed at least 80 people in China, belongs to a large family of viruses that mostly sicken animals. But this coronavirus, like SARS and MERS, “jumped the species barrier” to infect people on a large scale, the CDC said.
Despite its impact in China, the CDC maintains that the risk to Americans is low. But there’s still a lot about the virus, its symptoms and how easily it spreads that health officials don’t know.
“We need to be preparing as if this is a pandemic, but I continue to hope that it is not,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
The five patients who’ve been confirmed had all recently returned from Wuhan, the CDC said.
The first confirmed coronavirus patient in the US, a man in his 30s, sought treatment at an urgent care center in the state after returning from Wuhan. The urgent care center sent his samples to the CDC, which confirmed he had the coronavirus.
He entered isolated care at a hospital in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle, on January 23. He’s receiving treatment in an isolated gurney designed for patients with highly contagious diseases, and a robot takes his vitals.
He’s in stable condition, said Dr. George Diaz, the man’s physician and an infectious disease expert. He’ll undergo additional testing until he’s no longer contagious.
A woman in her 60s was diagnosed a few days after she returned from Wuhan on January 13. She’s in stable condition and “doing well” after undergoing treatment, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwardy said.
She’ll stay in the hospital to control the infection.
Los Angeles County, California
Details are sparse about this patient.
They’re currently being treated at a local hospital, though the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health didn’t disclose how long they sought treatment after exposure to the virus.
The risk to Los Angeles County is low, the department said.
Orange County, California
A man in his 50s flew into Los Angeles International Airport in Wuhan earlier this month. The county found out January 23, and the CDC confirmed his results on Saturday. He’s in a local hospital.
The state health department confirmed the patient is an “adult member” of the Arizona State University community, though it didn’t release the patient’s age or gender.
The patient called their healthcare provider when they began to experience mild respiratory symptoms. The CDC confirmed the coronavirus on Sunday.
The patient isn’t hospitalized, but is self-isolated at home, the department said.
Who’s still at risk
The CDC is monitoring at least 100 people in 26 states for coronavirus. About 25 of them were found not to have it.
Washington state health officials are monitoring 50 people who came in close contact with the state’s patient.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed the state, which hasn’t seen any confirmed cases yet, sent seven possible cases to the CDC for testing. Of those, four people remain in isolation while their results are pending. The travelers had just returned to the US from Lunar New Year celebrations in China.
There’s another suspected case in Waco, Texas, where a student at Baylor University is in isolated care. The university said the student is “doing well with minimal symptoms,” though the CDC hasn’t confirmed the student’s results yet.
Other coronavirus cases have been confirmed in several Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. Patients have also been reported in France and Australia, and on Monday, Ontario public health officials confirmed two cases, a husband and wife, had the virus.
What’s being done
The CDC is screening travelers from Wuhan at several US airports, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport began screenings last week.
The CDC advises Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to Hubei Province. Three dozen US diplomats and their families in Wuhan will evacuate the region to return to the US early this week.
Otherwise, the CDC encourages people to follow flu season protocol: Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid ill people and stay home and avoid public situations if they’re ill. A coronavirus vaccine would take at least a year to reach the public.