Health

Iowans test negative for coronavirus

State public health was monitoring individuals after recent travel to China

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Corona
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)

Two Iowans being monitored for potential novel coronavirus by public health officials do not have the virus, the state public health department announced Monday.

The Iowa Department of Public Health announced last week that two Iowans were being monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after recently traveling back to the United States from China, the epicenter of the outbreak of a new respiratory virus.

Both individuals, who were unidentified by public health officials, had agreed to voluntary home confinement.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is also monitoring 26 other Iowans for coronavirus who are not exhibiting any symptoms, according to the department’s website. So far, only the two Iowans whose results came back negative were actually tested for the virus.

The virus is a new — or novel — version of coronavirus that has not been previously identified.

Public health officials say four different types of coronaviruses commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold. This new variation is also not the same as the coronavirus that causes MERS and SARS.

Novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan in Central China in December, and since then, has sickened more than 40,500 across the world, the World Health Organization reported Monday.

About 40,000 cases have been confirmed in China alone, which includes 900 deaths.

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As of Monday, 12 cases have been confirmed in six states by U.S. public health officials. California has six cases, Illinois has two confirmed cases and Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington state each reported one case.

Last week, Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director and State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said the state department was implementing recommendations from President Donald Trump’s Task Force on Coronavirus and officials anticipated they “would likely be identifying individuals who would need monitoring and testing for the novel coronavirus.”

“Travelers coming back from China are more likely to have symptoms related to a common virus such as flu, so it’s more likely we will be detecting those people because we are monitoring them more closely,” Pedati said.

The state public health department recommended everyday preventive actions can help the spread of respiratory viruses, such as washing hands often, covering coughs and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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