What is Coronavirus?

 A microscope in a lab at Monument Health Center in Rapid City, S.D.
A microscope in a lab at Monument Health Center in Rapid City, S.D. (KOTA)
Published: Jan. 23, 2020 at 5:46 PM CST
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Last month, coronavirus was reported in Wuhan-- a major city in central China-- and now it has spread.

Officials describe it as a novel virus.

"It's one that we haven't seen before," said Ty White, Direction of Infection Prevention and Control at Monument Health. "So, we do have normal coronaviruses that circulate across the globe for normal human coronaviruses, this is something different."

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, upper respiratory tract infection, and coughing.

White said the virus might be spread similarly to the flu.

White said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health, hospitals, and local and state health care systems work together to have pre-made plans, procedures, and equipment in place in the event an outbreak occurs.

"So, we're constantly doing preparations for this type of situation, so we're always ready," said White. "We're prepared to rapidly identify and treat patients in an outbreak situation."

There is a confirmed case of the Wuhan Coronavirus in the United States-- in Everett, Washington-- about 40 minutes outside of Seattle. Reports say a man in his 30's contracted the virus during a trip to China.

"I think the risk remains low for South Dakotans and the United States in general," said White. "The key to preventing an outbreak is rapidly identifying patients and isolating them as soon as possible."

White says health care officials are dealing with seasonal influenza right now and says this is actually probably a bigger risk to the community rather than the coronavirus.

According to some nurses at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington-- the hospital were the man with the confirmed Coronavirus case is being treated-- it's seen as another bad flu bug, though the nurses we spoke with have never seen this new case. Like White indicated, they are more worried about influenza.