Louisville health officials keeping a close eye on coronavirus

Louisville health officials keeping a close eye on coronavirus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – As of Friday, two cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the United States, one in Washington, a second in Chicago. There are hundreds of other confirmed cases in China.

The respiratory outbreak has Louisville health officials keeping a close eye on the situation and how quickly it is changing.

"This is not something we have seen circulating in communities before," Dr. Lori Caloia, the Metro Public Health and Wellness Medical Director, said.

The Louisville Metro Health Department says symptoms are like other respiratory viruses with coughing, shortness of breath and fever.

"You would need to be visiting or coming directly from the region in which this virus has been found," Caloia said.

Dr. Paul Schulz, Norton Healthcare's system epidemiologist, said though two cases have been confirmed in the United States so far, it appears the virus has not been transmitted to anyone since they returned to the U.S. with the virus.

"Now, there's always a delay in that, because they may have already transmitted it and we don't know it yet," Schulz said. "But so far no transmissions in the U.S. is a big important piece of information."

University of Louisville professor of infectious diseases Dr. Ruth Carrico said there is still a lot unknown about the coronavirus.

"This one is a little bit different," Dr. Carrico said. "Not only is it a new virus, a new novel coronavirus, but we're seeing it spread pretty rapidly."

Carrico said there is no vaccine to treat it right now.

Local hospitals are taking precautions if someone comes in with symptoms that may be the coronavirus.

"It may mean that when individuals are ill and come to a hospital, they may find they are placed in isolation more quickly than they have been in the past," Carrico said. "So, there may be some responses on the part of the healthcare providers and hospitals and urgent care centers that go beyond what we normally see in a flu season."

Dr. Schulz said he's encouraging people to get their flu shot, especially because it is still flu season and the symptoms are similar.

He said it's also important to take other precautions such as staying home from work if you are sick, covering your mouth when you cough and washing your hands with soap and water.

"Every day that you don't identify a case is a good day obviously," Schulz said. "It means [health officials] are working really hard and keeping the two cases from becoming 20 or 200 or 2,000. That's really important."

The CDC said the immediate risk to the general public’s health is low as of Friday. For more information, click here.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.