MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Health professionals all over the globe are on high alert as World Health Organization officials work to learn more about the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The virus has caused 17 deaths and more than 500 illnesses in China, with one case confirmed in the United States.
Coronavirus is a group of viruses that can cause a cold or something more severe like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
“I think we’ll probably see more cases in the United States,” said Dr. Nicholas Hysmith, Director of Infection and Prevention at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
The first known case in the United States was confirmed Tuesday in Washington State.
The patient is a man who recently traveled from Wahun, China which officials believe is ground zero for the disease.
Dr. Hysmith says the virus is not uncommon.
Normally it's transmitted from animals to humans, but 2019-nCoV can be transmitted between humans.
However, Dr. Hysmith says Mid-Southerners have no reason to panic.
"We have had issues like this before where we’ve dealt with SARS and MERS, and we know what to do to make sure that it doesn’t spread quickly,” Hysmith said.
He says the disease is often hard to diagnose because symptoms are similar to other common illnesses.
"So now during flu season, it would be hard to differentiate that from influenza or any other viral illness that could cause pneumonia,” Dr. Hysmith explained.
Methodist-Le Bonheur Hospitals will post signs throughout their facilities, giving guidance on symptoms to look out for if you have been in contact with someone who has recently traveled in that part of the world.
FedEx is also taking the virus seriously for employees who travel internationally.
A statement from the company reads:
“The safety and well-being of our team members is our top priority, and we are closely monitoring guidance by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). FedEx is supplying surgical masks and alcohol wipes to team members and vendors, supplying hand sanitizer, and disinfecting facilities in areas where outbreaks have occurred. We are also encouraging our team members to take any signs of illness seriously and seek medical attention as needed.”