IOWA – The Iowa Department of Public Health says Iowans should not be worried of coronavirus.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said, “Anytime you see the emergent of a new virus that can affect people that’s going to be a concern for public health. Right now, the risk here in Iowa remains low.”
The Center for Disease Control confirms hundreds are sick from the virus and at least nine people have died. The virus was first detected in Wuhan City, China.
The first United States case was confirmed Tuesday in Washington State.
Pedati said the virus is believed to be spread by human interaction.
“Now that we’ve seen more cases there does appear to be limited human to human transmission. So, that means interacting with somebody who’s sick and is coughing or sneezing and shares droplets with somebody else is a way the virus can move from person to person,” Pedati said.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, difficulty breathing and more.
John F. Kennedy International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are screening travelers arriving from Wuhan, China.
The Des Moines International Airport said they will not conduct screenings due to the lack of direct flights from China.
“We want people to pay attention to things like the CDC travel alerts, which advise people if they are going to be traveling to Wuhan City to practice precautions, avoid interacting with sick people, animals or animal markets and if you return and become sick we want you to let your healthcare provider know where you’ve been,” Pedati said.
The CDC lists China at an ‘Alert- Level 2’ for travelers going to and from China. It asks people practice enhanced precautions.
Pedati said the virus is similar to SARS that killed hundreds of people between 2002 and 2003.
“Viruses are tricky things. They have a way of replicating themselves and when they do that there is sometimes able to change their DNA, RNA their genetic material in a way that allows them to do something new,” Pedati said.
According to Drake University one student is currently studying abroad and another is set to fly to China next month. The university is monitoring the situation and said the virus is not impacting programs.
Iowa State University told Channel 13 there are three students studying abroad in China and are not impacted by the virus at this time. The university is monitoring the situation.