Officials say Arkansans should be more worried about the flu than coronavirus

Officials say Arkansans should be more worried about the flu than coronavirus
With one case of possible coronavirus under investigation here in Arkansas, should you be worried about the virus?

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With one case of possible coronavirus under investigation here in Arkansas, should you be worried about the virus?

Infectious disease specialist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at NYITCOM Carl Abraham says no.

“Currently in Arkansas, we’re not concerned about spread of this coronavirus,” said Abraham.

While the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in China, here in the U.S., there have only been six confirmed cases with only one confirmed case of human-to-human transmission.

Abraham said while the coronavirus is very transmissible, it’s not unexpected spread and isn’t the most transmissible virus.

“This is very transmissible, but it’s not as transmissible as say measles virus which is extremely transmissible,” said Abraham. “But it’s still more transmissible than we usually see these types of coronavirus.”

This current outbreak is a new strain of coronavirus.

“This has happened several times with coronavirus with the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the MERS outbreak, they were both coronaviruses that probably mutated to cause worse disease in humans,” said Abraham.

Abraham said the coronavirus is very similar to the common cold with a lot of the same symptoms, but this novel coronavirus is causing lower respiratory tract infections similar to pneumonia.

While the coronavirus has caused a mass outbreak in China, Abraham said that isn’t the virus we should be worried about here in Arkansas.

“Right now, influenza is what we need to be worried about,” said Abraham, “30,000 people die every year in the United States from influenza.”

A lot of the things we do to prevent spreading the flu would also help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Things like washing your hands, coughing into your elbow or a tissue, and staying home if you’re sick so you don’t spread it to others can help avoid spreading the flu.

While the flu is the main concern in the U.S. and here in Arkansas, Abraham said it’s reasonable to be worried when mass outbreaks of viruses happen.

“It’s all over the media, we know that the outbreak is on its way and probably going to get worse before it gets better in China,” said Abraham. “Right now in the rest of the world we need to remain calm, it’s not a huge issue here. You should be much more worried about influenza than the coronavirus.”

The CDC has not posted the test results for the possible case of coronavirus in Arkansas.

As of this week, there is widespread flu activity in the state with 33 confirmed deaths due to the flu in Arkansas this flu season.

To learn more about the coronavirus, click here.

To learn more about the flu, click here.

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